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Three Black Environmental Leaders You Should Know

February 20, 2024

We celebrate the contributions of Black leaders to the environmental movement in the United States and around the world. Join us in learning about some of their stories.

Sharon Lavigne

Environmental justice advocate Sharon Lavigne (United States, 2021) successfully stopped the construction of a $1.25 billion plastics manufacturing plant in St. James Parish, Louisiana. The plant would have generated one million pounds of liquid hazardous waste annually in a region already contending with known carcinogens and toxic air pollution.

Hilton Kelley

Hilton Kelley (United States, 2011) grew up in a “fenceline community” next to the Motiva Oil Refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. The city has among the highest rates of cancer in the state. Kelley is a fierce advocate for environmental justice and stricter regulations on the industries that pollute the Texas Gulf Coast.

Margie Richard

A middle school teacher faced with environmental devastation in her community of Norco, Louisiana, Margie Richard (United States, 2004) secured agreement from Shell Chemical to reduce its toxic emissions by 30%, contribute $5 million to a community development fund, and relocate residents from the Old Diamond neighborhood. Margie was the first African American to win the Goldman Environmental Prize.

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