Our Toxic Neighborhoods: Environmental Racism in Flint and Beyond *CANCELED*

Date & Time

March 19, 2020 @ 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm


V. Earl Dickinson Building, Piedmont VA Community College
501 College Drive
Charlottesville, VA 22902


UPDATE: See Cancelation Notification in tab below.


Anna Clark (The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy) and Harriet Washington (A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind) share the devastating details of contemporary environmental hazards and the communities most likely to be in danger.

Book sales and signing follow. Limited seats, registration required.


Why should you attend?

“Clark writes powerfully about the environmental consequences of a shrinking city, about how Flints financial decline drove the decision to switch drinking-water sources… She’s most effective describing the racism that shaped Flint.” — The New York Times Book Review

“Gripping and packed with meticulously source reportage… Clark’s rich account intersperses policy and environmental science with vivid portraits of Flint and its citizens, ramping up the tension as the horror unfolds.”– Nature

“In her groundbreaking new book, A Terrible Thing to Waste, award-winning science writer and bioethicist Harriet Washington explores how environmental racism damages young minds, particularly the minds of impoverished African American children who are exposed inordinately to toxins and pathogens in marginalized communities. She writes lucidly of how pollutants such as heavy metals and neurotoxins injure developing brains and recounts vividly case after case of the devastating cost to human brains and bodies. As she demolishes racist notions of inherited intelligence, she describes the medical consequences of horrific environmental catastrophes that have largely been forgotten of overlooked. Revelatory and compelling, Harriet Washington’s A Terrible Thing to Waste, is the Silent Spring for the 21st century.” –Robin Lindley, JD, Features Editor, History News Network

“An unflinching look at environmental racism in black and brown communities.” –Angela Helm, The Root

This event is #open to all alumni, parents, and friends.


Anna Clark

Author of "The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy"

Anna Clark, author of The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy, is interested in how cities are made and unmade. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Elle, Next City, and elsewhere. She has an MFA from Warren Wilson College and lives in Detroit.

Harriet A. Washington

Author of "A Terrible Thing to Waste"

Harriet A. Washington, author of A Terrible Thing to Waste and many others, has been a research fellow or scholar at the University of Nevada’s Black Mountain Institute, Harvard Medical School, Tuskegee University, and DePaul University College of Law. She is the author of Deadly Monopolies, Infectious Madness, and Medical Apartheid, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Oakland Award, and the American Library Association Black Caucus Nonfiction Award.

Dayna Matthew (moderator)

Professor of Law; Professor of Civil Liberties and Human Rights, School of Law

Dayna Matthew is the William l. Matheson and Robert M. Morgenthau Distinguished Professor of Law and F. Palmer Weber Research Professor of Civil Liberties and Human Rights at the UVA School of Law. Matthew is also director of The Equity Center at UVA. She is a leader in public health who focuses on racial disparities in health care.

Cancelation Notification
To the Virginia Festival of the Book community,

It is with heavy hearts that we write to let you know that we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Virginia Festival of the Book.

In an announcement on March 8, the University strongly discouraged all travel for non-essential purposes, particularly that by air, to large gatherings, and to areas experiencing high numbers of COVID-19 cases, asking that members of the community apply similar judgment in considering personal travel commitments. Though there has not been a case of COVID-19 on Grounds or in the greater Charlottesville community, the Virginia Department of Health has confirmed five cases of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.

At its core, the Festival is a community event that brings together writers and readers from across the country and around the world. As such, we are committed to prioritizing and protecting the wellbeing of our community, as well as visiting speakers and attendees. In the rapidly evolving public health situation, where much is still unknown about the coronavirus, we do not feel that it is an acceptable risk to hold the 2020 Festival as planned. Unfortunately, given the way we operate, it is also not possible for the Festival to be rescheduled.

While the Festival is not inexpensive to produce, we understand that the costs of canceling are great as well. We ask that you please consider purchasing books (from local booksellers) by authors whose programs you were hoping to attend. Further, we will do our best to share information in the future about local events with authors who had been previously scheduled to speak at this year’s event.

We are currently working through many other implications of this cancelation, and will continue to post information at

In closing, we appreciate your understanding and ongoing support, though we know this decision holds a good deal of disappointment for us all.

Thank you,
Virginia Festival of the Book staff