In south Louisiana, issues of the environment cannot be separated from issues of race. Black and indigenous communities bear the brunt of climate change and climate disaster, through exposure to environmental pollution as well as destruction from catastrophic storms. Whitney Plantation sits at the heart of Cancer Alley, a corridor between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that includes some of the most polluted communities in the nation. Whitney Plantation and its surrounding descendant community are under threat from further industrial development, which endangers historic cultural resources and increases toxic burden on residents. At the same time, this area faces an increased risk of damage from hurricanes, which are strengthening due to climate change.
On August 29, 2021, southeast Louisiana was hit by Hurricane Ida, a category 4 hurricane, which caused tremendous damage to Whitney Plantation and necessitated a three-month closure of the historic site. Repair work to the site and the surrounding community are ongoing. This seminar, held at the anniversary of this catastrophic event, will highlight issues at the intersection of race and the environment both past and present. Join us for two days of conversation with community activists and scholars about environmental justice and environmental history.