Descendants Of Slaves Say This Proposed Grain Complex Will Destroy The Community

Grain silos sit along the Mississippi River in southern Louisiana. The company Greenfield Louisiana plans on installing 54 silos and a conveyor structure almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty.

Joy Banner, 42, stands at the edge of her hometown of Wallace, La., looking over a field of sugar cane, the crop that her enslaved ancestors cut from dawn to dusk, that is now the planned site of a major industrial complex. Across the grassy river levee, the swift waters of the Mississippi bear cargo toward distant ports, as the river has done for generations.

“This property is where the proposed grain elevator site would be set up right next to us,” she says. “As you can see, we would be living in the middle of this facility.”

A bitter fight has broken out between the powerful backers of this major new grain terminal on the Mississippi River in south Louisiana and the historic Black community that has been here on the fence line for 150 years. Charges of environmental racism are coming from her and fellow descendants of enslaved people, who believe the silo complex is an existential threat to the community of Wallace.

On this sunny Juneteenth, a couple dozen folks — mostly Banner’s extended family — sit under a 300-year-old oak tree on the grounds of the Fee-Fo-Lay Cafe in Wallace. They eat roast beef sandwiches and peach cobbler, drink whisky and daiquiris, and enjoy the laid-back, rural life on this lazy bend of the mighty river.

But they fear change is coming. 07-07-21

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