The goal of this project is to prevent the African American community of St. James from being wiped off the map by the relentless petrochemical plant expansion in St. James Parish. Within the parish is the small community of St. James, a historic region where families can trace their ancestors back generations.
The U.S. Census notes that St. James is 90% African American. The child poverty rate is 56%. There are already six petrochemical facilities in St. James, and five more are planned. Residents have formed a group called RISE St. James to address the relentless construction, pollution and inequity from the petrochemical plants. RISE St. James includes residents from both the 4th and 5th Districts of St. James Parish.
We are collaborating with RISE St. James to resist the overwhelming plans to industrialize the region, including the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, Formosa, Wanhua, South Louisiana Methanol, Linde, and the expansion of the Ergon tank farm.
We are supporting RISE St. James, led by Sharon Lavigne, in calling for a moratorium on new facilities in St. James Parish.
St. James includes a neighborhood called Freetown that was founded by women and men who fought for and achieved emancipation. We have compared today’s maps to those from the 1890s and found that today’s Freetown Lane is exactly where Freetown was in 1890. Today’s St. James residents are descendants of those families. A core component of our work is to build on these deep and powerful roots.
For more information about this work, please read this report — A Plan without People.