When Margie Eugene-Richard won the Goldman Prize last year, it was a stunning public recognition of decades of struggle. Richard — the first African-American to win the award, which some refer to as environmentalism’s Nobel Prize — had waged a 30-year campaign against Shell Chemicals with fellow residents of Diamond, La. Like the proverbial David, the African-American, working-class neighborhood took on a Goliath — and won.
But the fight against Shell was not just the singular achievement of an individual activist, as Richard would be the first to admit. It was a collective one, and Steve Lerner’s readable and engaging Diamond: A Struggle for Environmental Justice in Louisiana’s Chemical Corridor ably tells the rest of the story.
Lerner was introduced to the people of Diamond by his brother, with whom he works at Commonweal, a health and environmental research institute in California. The more he learned, the more he realized the events in this small community reflected the struggles of the broader U.S. environmental-justice movement.
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