The Rev. James Clanton

All struggles have their costs, and leaders and activists often go unacknowledged for the work they do. That is why one local activist, who has received recognition for his leadership and dedication to his community, hopes that others will be inspired to remain steadfast to their causes.

The Rev. James Clanton, pastor of the First Baptist Church of New Hill, was selected by the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN) as the recipient of the network’s 2010 Florenza Moore Grant Community Environmental Justice Award.

Clanton received the prestigious award at the NCEJN’s 12th annual summit in Whitakers this past weekend.

Clanton has led the community and his congregation at New Hill in its ongoing fight against the siting of a $327 million wastewater treatment plant in the center of the historical, unincorporated community. The five-year struggle has pitted the primarily African-American community against the predominantly white towns of Cary, Apex and Morrisville. The towns have formed the Western Wake Partnership, which is responsible for the wastewater treatment plant.

“Recently our surrounding municipalities have begun identifying us as this group that is holding back economic development or holding up progress,” said Clanton, “and it means a lot to receive this award and realize others are supporting and recognizing our hard work — and that we are not alone.”