Marylee Orr Interview

Marylee began building bridges for environmental activism in 1983 after her second son was born with a lung disease. This prompted her to found the environmental organization Mothers against Air Pollution (MAAP), and in 1985 she became the co-chair of the newly formed statewide environmental organization, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN). In 1987 LEAN made her its executive director. Orr’s organizing career began with a monumental win preventing the burning of PCB's in the African American community of Alsen, LA. She helped pioneer cooperation between environmental interests and labor unions during the historic BASF lock- out of the 1980's to create effective common ground problem solving that improved both worker and community health and safety. In 1991, Orr was selected as a United States delegate to the Global Assembly of Women and the Environment. With Marylee's leadership, LEAN has focused on using environmental challenges as an empowerment opportunity to not only solve health and safety issues but also address the fundamental injustices that undermine underserved communities across our state. Audio interview with Marylee Orr for Women Pioneers of the Louisiana Environmental Movement by Peggy Frankland, conducted by Jennifer A. Cramer, Director of the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History. Copyright: Louisiana State University Special Collections.