Across Louisiana: Environmental justice in St. James, Opelousas museum expands, Dance stories archived at Armistad
Snapshots of news from across South Louisiana in case you missed it
Judge Trudy White stops Formosa development, environmental justice activists get another victory
ST. JAMES— 19th Judicial District Court Judge Trudy White has thrown out the air permit Louisiana gave Formosa for its planned $10,000 billion plastics plant in St. James. The Court reversed the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s decision to issue air permits that Formosa Plastics needed to build its proposed petrochemical complex in St. James Parish. The decision throws out the air permits and sends Formosa Plastics back to the drawing board. The permits would have allowed Formosa Plastics to emit over 800 tons of toxic pollution into the air, exacerbating environmental racism and harming the health of St. James’ predominantly Black residents in a region known as “Cancer Alley.”
“Stopping Formosa Plastics has been a fight for our lives, and today David has toppled Goliath,” said Sharon Lavigne, founder and president of RISE St. James. “The judge’s decision sends a message to polluters like Formosa that communities of color have a right to clean air, and we must not be sacrifice zones.”
“This decision is the nail in the coffin for Formosa Plastics. They won’t build in St. James Parish, and we will make sure that they won’t build this monster anywhere,” said Anne Rolfes, director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.
This victory comes days after a victory against the South Louisiana Methanol petrochemical complex which was also planned for St. James Parish. It would have been the largest methanol production facility in North America.
Opelousas museum gets grants for ‘Free People of Color’ exhibit
OPELOUSAS—The Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center has received grants from the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area and a Rebirth Grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities to develop a new exhibit recognizing Free People of Color in St. Landry Parish from 1700 to 1865. Through images, text, maps, and artifacts, the exhibit will describe lifestyle, trades, and culture. It will also explore how despite being free but with many legal restrictions, the people thrived and left important legacies, said museum representatives. The exhibit will open in February 2023 with special presentations. Exhibit developers include historian Sarah Senette, genealogist Etha Simien Amling, designer Jerome Ford, exhibit technician Stephen Ford, research assistant Taylor Suir, and education specialist Brandi Meche. The museum is located at 315 N Main St., in Opelousas.
Black Dance Stories and New Orleans-based Amistad Research Center join to preserve archives of Black performances
NEW ORLEANS— Web series Black Dance Stories and Amistad Research Center, one of the nation’s largest independent African-diaspora archives, have entered into a preservational partnership. Conceived of and co-created by Charmaine Warren in response to the confluence of the pandemic, social isolation and Black Lives Matter activism in summer 2020, Black Dance Stories streamed 48 episodes, each featuring two Black performance artists in conversation, on YouTube between June 2020 and November 2021. Amistad Research Center, housed on the Tulane University campus in New Orleans, commenced a visual archiving process of those virtual conversations in February. This collaboration not only embeds Black Dance Stories in historical archives; it will also ensure increased accessibility to learners around the world, both now and into the future. Read more at dancemagazine.org
Heart attacks on the rise among under-40 crowd
In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. But they aren’t just an issue for your grandparents’ generation, though it’s easy to see why many would think that. The average age of a first heart attack is 65 for men and 72 for women, but research continues to mount that heart attacks are on the rise among people under 40 years old. Another study found that hospitalizations for heart attacks are becoming more prevalent among those under the age of 55, particularly Black women. These younger women were more likely to have a history of conditions that can increase the chance of a heart attack, including hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and stroke. More research noted that those who experienced a heart attack under the age of 45 were more likely to be male, smoke, have obesity and have a family history of premature heart attacks.
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