|Undoing The Wrong That Was Done: Plaquemines after Perez
By Keith Weldon Medley
Right below St. Bernard Parish on the east bank and Orleans Parish on the west bank, lies Plaquemines Parish, the Mississippi River’s final corridor in its long journey through the continental United States and into the Gulf of Mexico. The parish’s location and mineral wea1th attract petrochemical, sulfur mining, oil and gas, and coal transfer companies whose wharves line both sides of the river. Its lakes, canals, bays and bayous teem with shrimp, oysters, crabs and other marine Life. Plaquemine’s citrus industry, historically the state leader, is currently rebounding from a hard freeze several years ago. For too long, this land, its wealth, and its people were dominated by a very few. However, a group called the Fishermen and Concerned Citizens Association (FCCA) has provided a voice for the many.
Since its inception, the ECCA has salvaged the livelihood of independent fishermen, secured sorely needed basic services, initiated legislation to have appropriated land returned, and succeeded in bringing whites and Blacks together in grass roots causes. As the FCCA enters its tenth year, it continues to spar with those who would march the parish backwards into the future.
Plaquemines has been described in a documentary as the “ends of the earth.” Unfortunately for Its residents, this characterization too often applied to its politics as well as its geography.
From 1924 to 1967, Leander Henry Perez was Plaquemines’ undisputed ruler. After turning a judgeship appointment into a political base, he was elected district attorney and later became Commission Council president….