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John Boyd Jr. spokesman for black farmers rights

Posted: June 7 2020

There were nearly a million black farmers in 1920. Why have they disappeared?

"The number of black farmers in America peaked in 1920, when there were 949,889. Today, of the country’s 3.4 million total farmers, only 1.3%, or 45,508, are black, according to new figures from the US Department of Agriculture released [April 2019]. They own a mere 0.52% of America’s farmland. By comparison, 95% of US farmers are white."

This article, published in The Guardian April 29, 2019 and written by Summer Sewell, shares the history of the land and the story of the life of John Boyd Jr., victor of the first-ever discrimination law suit against the USDA in 1997.

"The successful investigation on Boyd’s behalf prompted other black farmers to come forward with their stories, and in 1995 Boyd founded the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) after meeting with many black farmers and hearing similar USDA experiences."

Inequality ensues today:

"The NBFA grant recipient Michael Coleman, 25, runs 14 head of cattle in Mississippi and majors in animal science at Alcorn State University, a historically black school.
"These white cattle farmers are so much ahead of us it’s like we’re playing catch-up. They already know how to get the grant money, they already have old money,” Coleman says. “I mean, my dad was a sharecropper who worked 40 years in a factory 12 hours a day. Growing up, my father didn’t know about these programs.”
Nearly half of all black-owned farms are cattle operations, but with so few black farmers overall, the crowds at livestock markets are mostly white. “I haven’t been called out my name,” he says, using slang for a racial slur, “but I’m not too sure how they treat or price the animals once they figure out you’re a black farmer,” Coleman says."