Sharon Lavigne

1 minute read
By William Barber II

I met Sharon Lavigne when she invited me to come to St. James Parish, Louisiana, and stand with her community against a planned petrochemical plant. Sharon founded the advocacy group Rise St. James in 2018 to draw attention to the environmental racism that has turned the community she loves into “Cancer Alley.” As a pastor, I recognized this gathering was more than a rally; it was a graveside service for people who had died too soon. Family members stood with us, holding their loved ones’ pictures. “God did not call these men and women home,” I told them. “God will welcome them, for sure, but they should not be dead.” Rather than leave her home when corporations made it a valley of death, Sharon insisted this land would yet live. She has taught us that we must listen to the people of Cancer Alley, and she continues fighting for them every day. I thank God for her.

Barber is president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

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