Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr.
Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. has been many things to many people: student-body president. Air Force officer. Reverend. Community organizer. Climate leader. Father. Sometimes he worries that he’ll lose himself among them all—but he knows his faith will guide him back.
From an early age, as the child of Trinidadian and Tobagonian immigrants down in Shreveport, he drew strength and solace from the church. He would need both if he was going to fight the battles he knew needed fighting: as a Black man from Louisiana, Rev. Yearwood knew firsthand how society denied people like him a voice, and so he resolved to spend his life teaching others how to raise their voices too loudly to ignore.
As a student at Howard University and UDC, he organized massive sit-ins and peaceful protests. He openly protested the invasion of Afghanistan while serving as an Air Force chaplain. He helmed several voter-turnout projects with hip-hop musicians, where he saw both the anger and the passion brewing in young Black hip-hop fans. Determined to help them channel those emotions, Rev. Yearwood created a coalition that would eventually become the Hip Hop Caucus, a group that uses “the power of our cultural expression to empower communities who are first and worst impacted by injustice.”
In 2005, when thousands were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Rev. Yearwood forged the link between the Hip Hop Caucus and climate activism. Black Louisianans just like him had lost everything, and he knew that they would continue to bear the worst impacts of climate change. It felt overwhelming, but if he drew on his ever-present faith, anything was possible. He founded the Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign to advocate for the rights of Katrina survivors, and for more than a decade the Hip Hop Caucus has led the movement to unite anti-racist activism with climate causes. Faith—whether in God or any source “greater than yourself”—is what Rev. Yearwood encourages anyone else fighting the climate crisis to seek.