Margie is a retired schoolteacher, a grandmother, and an ardent environmental justice activist from the tiny African American Diamond community in Norco, Louisiana. She follows in the footsteps of other black leaders who refused to give in to racial injustice. The Diamond community is sandwiched between the Shell Oil plant and the Shell/Motiva refinery.
Margie is a founding member of the National Black Environmental Justice Network (NBEJN), begun in New Orleans in 1999. Representing her local organization, Concerned Citizens of Norco, and NBEJN.
In 2000, thanks largely to Richard’s efforts, Shell agreed to reduce its emissions by 30 percent and improve its emergency evacuation routes. Shell also agreed to pay voluntary relocation costs for residents who lived on the two streets closest to the plant. But Richard and Concerned Citizens turned up the heat, leading to a meeting at the Shell offices in Norco where they secured a $5 million community development fund and full relocation for all four Old Diamond streets. Since the agreement was brokered in 2002, Shell has bought about 200 of the 225 lots at a minimum price of $80,000 per lot.
In June 2002, victory finally came when Shell agreed to a buyout that allowed residents to relocate from the chemical facilities, reduce emissions by 30 percent, and contribute $5 million to a community development fund. Margie's and the Diamond community's victory is a victory for the entire environmental justice movement. In October 2002, Margie's work was recognized by her environmental justice peers who saluted her with the Crowning Women of the EJ Movement Award given at the Second National People of Color Environmental Leadership, held in Washington, DC.