01/29/2013 10:28 am ET Updated Mar 31, 2013

100 Days of Climate Legacy Action Calls for Change We Can Believe In

When Barack Obama was sworn in for a second term as president of the United States last Monday morning in Washington D.C., we witnessed the beginning of a presidential term that may provide one of our final opportunities to preserve our democratic, environmental and economic health both here at home and across the globe. The fact that President Obama's second and final inauguration coincided with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's holiday was a fitting reminder that a lasting legacy is at stake.

Some may think that's being overly dramatic, but from a ground perspective here in Detroit, I'm inclined to think it's as clear as MLK's Mountain Top vision. So on a day that we commemorate the realization of dreams, the Detroit Sierra Club kicked off our 100 Days of Climate Legacy Action with a special Presidential Inauguration Watch Party Brunch with a host of community residents, activists, environmentalist, union members and Sierra Club volunteers galvanized about the threats corporate lawlessness and public unaccountability pose to us all.

Presenters included Southeast Michigan Sierra Club Education Chair Jerry Hasspacher, River Rouge Community Activist Douglas "G-Styles" Murphy of Feed Da Streetz, Ms. Alisha Winters featured in the Sierra Club Magazine Cost of Coal article, Detroit author/poet Tawana Petty, Detroit community activist, author and film maker Yusef Shakur, Sierra Club Environmental Justice Organizer Rhonda Anderson, U.S. Social Forum Climate Justice Committee Member and Detroit Grassroots Community Arts Theater Director Oya Amakisi, Detroit 48217 environmental activist Vincent Martin, and Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign Organizer Brad Van Guilder.

The 100 Days of Action aims to bring together a coalition of citizens concerned about the grave threats rampant corporate lawlessness amd public unaccountability present to our environmental, economic and social well-being. We took the opportunity to come together and strategize about how we can encourage President Obama, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to secure a legacy by rebuilding a healthy environment, economy and society with a series of administrative actions from now through Earth Day .

As challenging as the realization of those ideals may be, we happened to inherit the world's best opportunity to realize them. The question is whether our generation will carry the 20th century's hard-earned progress around environmental, labor and civil protections forward or betray it out of the short-sighted greed, insecurity, historical amnesia and fear mongering offered by the corporate agenda.

Here in Michigan, we've all seen the governor, state legislature and local Detroit city council show blatant disrespect for the clear public rejection of Emergency Manager Laws by repackaging it like an unwanted Christmas gift. State officials also showed why the constitutional amendments were needed to guarantee collective bargaining and a clean energy future by moving to strike down collective bargaining. The assault on collective bargaining -- a right that birthed the middle class in Michigan -- came despite clear indications from exit polls showing public support for bargaining rights and clean energy minus altering the state constitution.

At the city level, the disregard for public will has been just as blatant. Detroit Public School System EM Roy Roberts insists he's still the H.EM.I.C. while Mayor Dave Bing and the city council believe they're justified in firing city attorney Krystal Crittendon for nothing less than fighting valiantly to full fill her duty by opposing the EM agenda through legal channels. You would have thought that the election validated her position and that of the Michigan Sierra Club, which officially endorsed the proposal to repeal the Emergency Manager Law. Instead, it only demonstrated the disregard some elected officials have for the public will.

At the federal level, we trust these trends are not repeated. Obama's inaugural address signaled that he is prepared to lead the way toward the clean energy future and equitable society most Americans support. His second term in office at least signifies a general public rejection of runaway corporate unaccountability. We now have a president with the opportunity to act administratively without waiting for congressional gridlock to fade. People want change we can believe in -- and it's time to deliver.

I'm hoping you will join us over the next 100 Days of Action, and on through the month of April culminating in Earth Day 2013 for a series of community engagement actions that will encourage the president and the EPA to stand by the principled sacrifices of MLK and so many other lesser known heroes. No figure in American history has had greater potential to honor and live up to Dr. King's legacy than President Obama. Where King had a dream and a vision, Obama has been given a most precious opportunity by the American people to build a world where we can all live, eat, breathe, work and prosper.

None of that can happen if the current climate disruptions are not addressed through the necessary investments in clean energy. Of all the challenges facing the president and our society, addressing climate disruption is perhaps the most possible for him to overcome. Doing that will at least give us a chance at overcoming the others. We owe it to ourselves, our children and each other to take action now.