As the creator of this website and the owner of several social media platforms, I feel it is my responsibility to use these platforms to educate the public on the plight of the American Black farmer. In order to understand their plight, we have to listen to their story. When I say "listen," I mean listen for clarity.
These are real people who are losing their land, had it taken away and are suffering in a way that the average person probably cannot understand.
How many of us know a full-time Black farmer? You know? Someone who farms for a living. Unless you personally know a Black farmer, you don't have a connection or an understanding to their suffering...You do NOW! By watching the following 3-5 minute videos you can put a name to the face of a Black farmer and perhaps get a sense of their struggle and how you can them. The choice is yours.
If you want to know what Black farmers are thinking and how they feel about issues like discrimination by USDA, unfair lending practices and how this has impacted their families, your most credible source is a working Black farmer. Period. Paragraph. End of Sentence. Watch and listen to this group of Black farmers to learn more about their fight for equal treatment and justice by the United States government.
Watch farmer Bernice Atchinson share her experiences of injustice hands of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Listen to this proud farmer talk about how he did not miss one payment to the USDA and still lost 650 acres and how he has been trying for years to get into the slaughtering business.
Pay attention to the perspective of academic, filmmaker (“I’m Just a Layman in Pursuit of Justice: Black Farmers Fight Against USDA”), and longtime Black farmer supporter Dr. Waymon Hinson.
I have farmed since I was 8 years old. My father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all farmers. I love the land and I love to farm.
I first experienced discrimination from USDA in 1993. I was denied a loan. Even though I appealed and won, USDA offered me a new loan at a higher interest rate than I was owed. The department also breached their settlement agreement with me when they tried to underpay me.
Without the necessary funds, I could only build a frame for a chicken house and could not complete other chicken houses. I lost a contract to raise chickens because of this. Later, a storm destroyed one of the chicken houses.
People have vandalized my chicken houses and killed my cattle. When I joined the Black farmer movement, I met many others who faced problems like mine.
Waymon Hinson is a retired storyteller after 26 years in academics and 8 years with an Indian tribe. He has been involved with the Black Farmer Movement since 1994 as a consultant, author, writer, BFAA board member, and advocate. He currently serves as an advisor for the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees and has participated in efforts to shape "The Justice for Black Farmers Act of 2020." He has spoken at numerous state, regional, national, and international conferences on matters related to justice. He is also a frequent interviewee on radio broadcasts related to the documentary and the plight of the Black farmer.
Bernice Atchison, is in her 80's and a farmer from Alabama. She is often referred to as the "Queen Mother." Ms. Atchison is a living embodiment of the struggle and injustice faced by Black Farmers. She lost more than 250 acres during her decades-long battle with the USDA. She continues to fight for compensation from the Pigford settlements to this day.
Michael Stovall, a fourth-generation Black farmer, owns a farm in Town Creek, Alabama. Stovall has decades of history battling the USDA on discrimination because of his race.
Tracy Lloyd McCurty is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Black Belt Justice Center (BBJC), a legal and advocacy nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and regeneration of African American farmlands and land-based livelihoods through effective legal representation, advocacy, and community education. For over fifteen years, McCurty has served as a legal advocate on a range of issues disparately impacting the African Diaspora community; however, her most cherished work has been in service of multi-generational farm families living on the land in the rural South.
Pigford v. Glickman (1999) was a class action lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), alleging that it had racially discriminated against African American farmers in its allocation of farm loans and assistance between 1981 and 1996. The lawsuit was settled on April 14, 1999, by Judge Paul L. Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. To date, almost $1 billion US dollars have been paid or credited to fewer than 20,000 farmers under the settlement's consent decree, under what is reportedly the largest civil rights settlement to date. Due to delay tactics by the U.S. government, more than 70,000 farmers were treated as filing late and thus did not have their claims heard. The 2008 Farm Bill provided for additional claims to be heard. In December 2010, Congress appropriated $1.2 billion for what is called Pigford II, settlement for the second part of the case.
Farmer Michael Stovall refuses to accept anything that is not fair. After almost 3 decades, he continues the fight against the USDA.
Eddie Slaughter is a third-generation farmer from Buena Vista, Georgia. If you're not emotionally moved by his story, you don't have a soul. According to Slaughter, “... A landless people is a helpless people.”