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Women Pioneers of the Louisiana Environmental Movement

Peggy Frankland

Publication Year: 2013

Women Pioneers of the Louisiana Environmental Movement provides a window into the passion and significance of thirty-eight committed individuals who led a grassroots movement in a socially conservative state. The book is comprised of oral history narratives in which women activists share their motivation, struggles, accomplishments, and hard-won wisdom. Additionally interviews with eight men, all leaders who worked with or against the women, provide more insight into this rich--and also gendered--history.

The book sheds light on Louisiana and America's social and political history, as well as the national environmental movement in which women often emerged to speak for human rights, decent health care, and environmental protection. By illuminating a crucial period in Louisiana history, the women tell how "environmentalism" emerged within a state already struggling with the dual challenges of adjusting to the civil rights movement and the growing oil boom.

Peggy Frankland, an environmental activist herself since 1982, worked with a team of interviewers, especially those trained at Louisiana State University's T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History. Together they interviewed forty women pioneers of the state environmental movement. Frankland's work also was aided by a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. In this compilation, she allows the women's voices to provide a clear picture of how their smallest actions impacted their communities, their families, and their way of life. Some experiences were frightening, some were demeaning, and many women were deeply affected by the individual persecution, ridicule, and scorn their activities brought. But their shared victories reveal the positive influence their activism had on the lives of loved ones and fellow citizens.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

This book presents a history that touches countless Louisiana citizens today in the early twenty-first century, as well as the memory of their ancestors and the future of their descendants throughout the nation. Yes, these stories reflect a commitment to make safe the land, air, and water of a certain place in time. But they also tell of how caring and active leaders are made, how families lived in the...

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Introduction

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pp. xiii-xxv

Not long ago, Louisiana was renowned for the uniqueness and beauty of its landscape. This magnificence was the backdrop of my early life when I came to Lake Charles as a young woman of eighteen in 1959. Today, so many years later, I still think of the brilliance of the gifts of air, land, and water that we have. You will hear of those gifts in the essays of most of the women ...

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Chapter One. “HOW COULD I STAND BY?”: PROTECTING ONE PLACE, PROTECTING MANY

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pp. 3-29

In 1997, Marine Shale agreed to pay more than $10 million to settle federal and state allegations that it incinerated hazardous waste without a permit and planned to sell the contaminated ash as fill material to the public. Sally Herman, Fernell Cryar, Catherine Holcomb, Barbara LeLeux, and Monica Mancuso were the 1995 recipients of an Environmental Protection Agency ...

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Chapter Two. “WE ARE BLACK AND WHITE, RICH AND POOR”: CROSSING BOUNDARIES, REMAKING LOUISIANA

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pp. 30-58

In Iberville parish of the 1980s, 23.3 percent of the population lived below Oil refineries and petrochemical industrial facilities have released millions of pounds of chemicals into the air and waterways over the years. In 1980 waste associated with these industries was placed in 744 solid waste dumps, 1,000 hazardous waste dumps, 50 hazardous waste landfills, and 4,000 in-...

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Chapter Three. “I KNOW THAT IT WAS A REVELATION FROM GOD”: RELIGION AND ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION

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pp. 59-84

By the 1990s, knee-jerk support for local industries had become less prominent in some communities as citizens and elected officials came to embrace more nuanced positions. Media outlets began carrying more environmental stories, and a few churches began to explore the spiritual aspect of environ-mental stewardship. The women thus helped pave the way for their commu-...

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Chapter Four. “WHAT A FEW PEOPLE CAN DO”: LEARNING TO ADVOCATE FOR OTHERS

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pp. 85-109

Fighting the establishment became especially difficult for these women in the mid-1980s, when the bottom fell out of Louisiana’s oil and gas indus-try, devastating the state’s economy. Thousands of people lost their jobs and were forced to leave Louisiana to find employment. These changes were particularly disruptive given many extended families’ penchant for living in ...

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Chapter Five. “YOU ARE NOT SOMEBODY PRETENDING TO BE A MAN”: SUCCESS, POLITICS, AND GENDER

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pp. 110-144

As so many of the women featured in this chapter have pointed out, the biggest beneficiaries of the Louisiana grassroots environmental movement are children and subsequent generations. Holding fast to their vision of their state as a place where both industry and nature can thrive when strict environmental regulations are enforced, these women provide hope for the ...

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Chapter Six. “WHEN SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT, YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT”: CAREER ACTIVISTS BUILD BRIDGES

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pp. 145-173

Perhaps unwittingly, some politicians also contributed to the cultural mind-set that enabled industry to take advantage of workers and wreak havoc on the state’s environment. Former Governor Edwin Edwards, for example, once dismissed environmental activists’ concerns about the alarming number of health problems in the state by attributing them to Louisiana’s famously ...

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Chapter Seven. “WE AS A PEOPLE ARE BETTER THAN OUR POLITICS”: ALLIES, EXPERTS, AND ADVERSARIES

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pp. 174-227

Many political analysts, not to mention Roemer himself, say his insistence on holding industry to higher environmental standards than previous guberna-torial administrations led to his losing bid for reelection. Among the changes made under Roemer that industry particularly disliked was the creation of an environmental scorecard giving industries tax credits based on how ...

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Chapter Eight. “THERE WAS NEVER A QUESTION OF DATA”: PERSPECTIVES FROM TEN YEARS OUT

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pp. 228-241

In 1962’s Silent Spring, the book many people credit with giving birth to the modern environmental movement, Rachel Carson writes: “We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress at great speed. The fork of the ...

Supplemental List of Women Environmental Activists

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pp. 242-244

Notes

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pp. 245-250

Index

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pp. 251-259


E-ISBN-13: 9781621039402
E-ISBN-10: 1621039404
Print-ISBN-13: 9781617037726

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2013

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Subject Headings

  • Women environmentalists -- Louisiana -- Biography.
  • Environmental protection -- Louisiana.
  • Environmental justice -- Louisiana.
  • Louisiana -- Environmental conditions.
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