Byron Encalade was born and spent his entire life in Pointe à la Hache. His first entreaty to the NAACP was calling upon the Association to be a voice of advocacy for disenfranchised black fishermen in Plaquemines Parish. “We need NAACP here, in black communities, to give us our rightful voice.” He went on to say that during Hurricane Katrina there was no discernible representative of black communities serving on decision making bodies for disaster planning and response. The outcome of that lack of informed representation is evident in the fact that five years later there are still displaced and severely compromised lives stemming from that disaster. One such challenge was that compensation for damages was only based on wages and not on the significant loss of investment in property that was the cornerstone of livelihoods. Recognizing the intersection of significant economic insecurity and the state of suffering of communities in the gulf, Byron called on the NAACP to advance policies and initiatives that uplift accumulated wealth for black communities.
Byron lamented the loss of oyster beds due to freshwater conversion. He went on to say that it will be at least 3 years before people can do oyster fishing again, and that’s only if the harmful activity that is causing the conversion has stopped.
Re the claims process, based on the experiences of his community with slow and insufficient payment, Byron states that the sentiment of the community is “Enough is enough.” He recommended that there be significantly greater oversight. With BP handling the claims process he likened the situation to “The fox having the keys to the chicken coop.” One reform he would like to see is a 6th month payment structure so that people don’t have to worry from month to month, as well as traverse onerous administrative procedures under such pervasive duress.
To view interview with Byron, please click here.