1910 was the peak year of land ownership for African Americans. Collectively, blacks own over 15 million acres of land of which 218,000 black farmers are full or part owners. A steady decline of landownership begins after 1910.
The idea of undoing the many years of backroom deals that robbed blacks of their land is not simply a notion of justice. It’s a matter of wholeness. Not just for African Americans… but for whites … and … for all of us.
Each year, singers like Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Kenny Chesney perform for white farmers (Farm Aid) who lost or are in danger of losing their land. How much of that land was formerly held by black farmers is not the question. I mention them because during my trucking through the South I heard from blacks who used to pick cotton in some of those fields.
Apparently, in their opinion, when minimum wage came into law, many white farmers refused to pay blacks “that much money.” So they invested in huge combines, larger tractors and other farm equipment to replace the African Americans who historically worked the fields. Then when they discovered they were over invested couldn’t keep up the payments to the banks loans and subsequently… they either reached across the Mexican border and found even cheaper labor, or were too in dept, and lost the family farm. All those dollars spent on mega-machinery in the effort to both make a profit and deny blacks from improving their economic lots appears to have created a karma that was inescapable. Then, like small-minded crooks, in efforts to make up for all the lost, each year more small black farmers were targeted for their lands, and huge, mega corporate farms were created … hurting the smaller white farmers even more.
[NOTE: Does volunteering their time and talents to raise money for Farm Aid make the afore mentioned recording artist racist? Not when the lineup also includes artists like Neil Young, and Dave Matthews, and Arlo Guthrie.]
The agenda to correct the wrongs done to black farmers is not a vendetta against white farmers … nor Hispanic nor Asian farmers. It’s more a matter of finally doing the right thing allowing the turning of the page so entire new chapters can be written.
The very idea that President-Elect Obama is considering a black man for the Secretary of Agriculture, is an awesome sign that America is emerging from the dark shadow of “Good ‘Ol Boy-ism” that has plagued its heart, stifled its creativity, and literally, driven the economy into the ground. (Any time the mega American automobile industry is on its back, gasping for what may be its last breath, YOU KNOW creativity and innovation left the room a very long time ago.)
John Boyd, isn’t just a black political token available to fill this very important position. Mr. Boyd has been an advocate for the fair treatment of black farmers for over three decades. He is credited with building up the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) to a membership of 94,000.
To read more on who he is and how he did all this, click here: (NBFA)