Press Release

Elizabeth Yeampierre, Climate Justice Activist, is Keynote for Farenthold Endowed Lecture on November 29 at Rothko Chapel

October 10, 2018


Houston, TX – Elizabeth Yeampierre, an internationally recognized Puerto Rican attorney and environmental and climate justice leader, will deliver the 2018 Frances Tarlton “Sissy” Farenthold Endowed Lecture in Peace, Social Justice, and Human Rights. Her lecture, “Climate Justice: The Time is Now, The Place is Here,” will take place on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Rothko Chapel, located at 3900 Yupon Street.  Yeampierre is the executive director of UPROSE and co-chair of the Climate Justice Alliance. The lecture is jointly sponsored by the Rothko Chapel and the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at the University of Texas.

Yeampierre will share how vulnerable communities are both experiencing and responding to the unequal burden they bear of climate change.  She will draw on experiences of climate justice activists from Brooklyn to Houston to Puerto Rico, to discuss opportunities for creating a more just and equitable society, beginning at the local level.  Bryan Parras, co-Founder of Texas Environmental Justice Agency Services (T.E.J.A.S) will be in conversation with Yeampierre after her address.  Parras is currently helping people in Houston and the Gulf Coast fight for a just recovery after Hurricane Harvey.  This program will include simultaneous interpretation for Spanish speakers provided by Antena Houston.       

“This political moment demands a different kind of leadership if we are to build and fight the intersection of racial injustice and climate change,” said Yeampierre.  “Climate justice demands we reject extractive cultural practices and embrace intergenerational front-line led solutions and that we do that now.  Our very existence is at stake.”   

The Rothko Chapel and the Rapoport Center are pleased that Yeampierre will serve as the fourth annual lecturer in this series, which honors Sissy Farenthold for her relentless pursuit of social justice. Farenthold, since her time as a member of the Texas legislature and her galvanizing campaign for Texas governor in 1972, has a history of exposing and responding to injustices as both a public servant and a citizen.  Named in her honor, the lecture series aims to bring internationally renowned scholars, activists, and politicians to Austin and Houston, through two organizations on which Farenthold has had a significant impact. She is a former board chair of the Rothko Chapel and an advisory board member of the Rapoport Center.

The lecture is part of the Rapoport Center’s multi-year project on inequality and human rights and will be followed by a conference in Austin with Yeampierre as the keynote speaker. The conference, “Puerto Rico in the Wake of Crisis: Towards a Just (After)life of Disaster,” will be held at the University of Texas on November 30 and December 1.  To learn more, click here:

It is also part of the Rothko Chapel’s exploration of human rights issues surrounding climate change, which includes the three-day symposium, “Toward a Better Future: Transforming the Climate Change Crisis,” being held February 28 – March 2, 2019 at the Rothko Chapel and University of St. Thomas.  To learn more, click here:

About the Rothko Chapel

The Rothko Chapel is open to the public every day of the year at no charge. It is a contemplative space that successfully interconnects art, spirituality, and compassionate action through a broad array of free public programs.  Founded by Houston philanthropists Dominique and John de Menil, the Chapel was dedicated in 1971 as an intimate sanctuary.  Today it stands as a monument to art, spirituality, and human rights. As an independent non-profit, non-governmental organization, the Chapel depends on contributions from foundations and individuals to support its mission of creating a space for contemplation and dialogue on important issues.

About the Rapoport Center

The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice was created in 2004, thanks to a generous gift by the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation. Its mission is to serve as a focal point for critical, interdisciplinary analysis and practice of human rights and social justice. The Center’s motto is “Partners for Change at the Intersection of Academics and Advocacy,” representing its unique position as an academic center that not only works across disciplines, but also collaborates with communities outside the academy with the aim of producing innovative and enduring change in the lives of marginalized individuals and groups.

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