Zulene Mayfield

September 13, 1961 -

Zulene Mayfield was the driving force behind the Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living and their goal to make sure that families in Chester live lives free from polluting industries. 

Zulene was featured in the 1996 documentary, “Laid to Waste,” which tells the story of a waste processing facility through the eyes of the residents, local leaders, politicians, and environmental officials involved. Zulene lived next door to the largest trash incinerator in the state and fought hard to bring environmental justice to her family and all those living within the shadow of the plant. Through court testimony, letter writing, and other advocacy actions, Zulene and other members of the Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living brought to light the discriminatory practice of locating polluting industries in areas of poverty and color.

Zulene believes that part of the issue of environmental justice stems from institutional racism. She was brought up in a non-prejudiced household, but found that many of the people she worked with and around did not share the same background and ideals. She worked to overcome racial biases through hard work and education.

Because of Zulene’s dedication to quality of life in Chester, she received several awards, including the NAACP Sojourner Truth Award and one from the city of Chester related to her work on childhood lead poisoning issues. To learn more about the environmental justice work in Chester, visit http://www.ejnet.org/chester. You may also view the new documentary in the Conservation Heritage series by WITF-TV.