On May 1, World Asthma Day and International Workers’ Day (May Day), environmental, racial and economic justice activists joined together at the Massachusetts State House to highlight the nexus between environmental racism, the climate crisis and workers’ rights.

The newly-launched #LetUsBreathe campaign advocates for state laws that improve racial, economic and environmental justice. Specifically, the Green Justice Coalition is urging action on three key current pieces of legislation: the Environmental Justice Act H.2913/S.426, the Solar Access for All Bill H.3396/S.1831, and an Act to Prevent Wage Theft and Promote Employer Accountability S.999/H.1033.

“We are asking for the basic human need, the basic human right, to breathe,” Rev. Mariama White-Hammond, Bethel AME Church said. “We are tired of living in a world where we mortgage the future of our children for short-term gain.”

Whether it’s due to pollution, crippling heat intensified by climate change, or the brutality that took the life of Eric Garner, many around the world struggle to breathe. From the high prevalence of asthma to the widespread problem of wage theft in Massachusetts, many local residents are fighting medical, social and economic constrictions that keep them from living healthy, fulfilling lives.

“The Environmental Justice Act creates a clear legislative mandate for our regulatory agencies to take environmental justice seriously in their actions, while the Solar Access bill will reduce artificial barriers to solar energy for low and moderate-income communities.” says Richard Juang, staff attorney for Alternatives for Community & Environment, a Roxbury-based environmental justice organization led by people of color. “The opportunity to live and work in an environmentally-healthy community and the option to be part of the green economic revolution are foundations of social justice, today.”

The event included participation in May Day marches in East Boston, Everett, Chelsea, Lynn, and New Bedford, where supporters wore face masks to highlight the growing threat of climate change to their ability to breathe. The activists also launched a social media campaign, using the hashtag #LetUsBreathe.