A retired special education teacher from Louisiana who led a successful grassroots campaign to stop construction of a toxic plastics plant in America’s Cancer Alley has won the 2021 Goldman prize for environmental defenders.

Sharon Lavigne, 68, organised marches, petitions, town hall meetings and media campaigns after elected officials gave the green light to the construction of another polluting factory in St James parish – a majority-Black community already blighted by heavy industry and exorbitant cancer rates.

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Photo Credit: The Goldman Environmental Prize