Date of Graduation

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Urban and Public Affairs


College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Sarah K. Burgess

Second Advisor

Dr. Rebecca Gordon


Despite the increase in power of the oil industry in various low-income communities of color throughout the state of California, many residents are still seen to be inactive in the fight to challenge this power. To combat this, local community organizations are working to empower residents of impacted communities in order to influence political spaces. To understand the impact communities organizations are having while doing this, I look to Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) and their work in Richmond and Wilmington, California. I ask the following research question to serve as a point of analysis: How do local organizations working against the oil industry organize community members to participate in political action? In this thesis, I argue that through providing residents with tools and resources, CBE has provided community members with the means to articulate their own stories and gain access to the political process. Through addressing the silencing and need for flexibility of the community, CBE is able to create new possibilities for its members to get involved in new and existing political spaces that challenge the oil industry. These practices lead to what I call transformative community resiliency, which is a type of resilience that refers to the ability of a community and its residents to shift its voice, understanding, and practices from an individual organizational viewpoint to a multifaceted coalition viewpoint when combating injustice caused by forces of power.