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A Discussion with the Founders of The Descendants Project: Cancer Alley and Environmental Racism

April 11 @ 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM


The Climate Museum is proud to partner with the Center for Constitutional Rights, one of the world’s leading forces for justice litigation and advocacy, to welcome Joy and Jo Banner. The Banners are the co-founders and co-directors of The Descendants Project, a community organization committed to the intergenerational healing and flourishing of the Black community in Louisiana’s River Parishes. This work centers on eliminating the legacies of slavery, especially environmental racism, and further seeks regeneration and reparations in the heart of the area that has become known as Cancer Alley.

In Cancer Alley, an 85-mile stretch of land along the banks of the Mississippi River, fully 25% of US petrochemical production occurs. The region is inhabited by descendants of the Black communities who were enslaved on Louisiana sugar plantations. The toxic load of this industrial concentration is deeply unjust: in some of the towns founded by Black communities after emancipation, residents today suffer a risk of cancer caused by air pollution 50 times higher than the national average.

Cancer Alley—a region spotlighted in the Museum’s current exhibition—is an acute example of a “sacrifice zone,” and like most sacrifice zones in the U.S., it is defined by racism. Fossil fuel and petrochemical companies believe residents deserve less and assume they can’t fight back against the proliferation of toxic heavy industry.

The Descendants Project upends this assumption. The Banners will discuss their work fighting environmental racism and advancing a positive future for Black descendant communities living in Cancer Alley, their inspiring success partnering with the Center for Constitutional Rights to overturn an illegal rezoning ordinance and block construction of new heavy industry on residential land and historic burial grounds, and lessons learned from the frontlines of the fight for climate and environmental justice. The conversation will be moderated by Climate Museum director Miranda Massie, followed by time for audience Q&A. Light refreshments will be served.


April 11
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Event Tags:


Climate Museum
(917) 551-6670
View Organizer Website


Climate Museum
105 Wooster Street
Soho, New York, NY United States
+ Google Map
(917) 551-6670
View Venue Website