California State Senator Hilda Solis overcame the strong opposition of a former governor and the California business community to win environmental protections for minority communities.
Arguing that polluting projects were disproportionately located near minority and low-income neighborhoods, Solis successfully marshaled support for her environmental justice bill. Defined as “the fair treatment of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws,” the first of its kind legislation won passage and was signed into law by Governor Gray Davis in October 1999.
Senator Solis was the first woman to receive the Profile in Courage Award and the first Latina ever elected to the California State Senate. Solis went on to serve in the United States House of Representatives, and now serves as Secretary of Labor in the Obama Administration.