BFAA to Hold 11th Annual National Black Land Loss Summit
February 8, 2009
Press Contact: Gary R. Grant 252-826-2800
11th National Land Loss Summit
To Be Held February 20-21, 2009
Tillery, NC, USA- The 11th National Black Land Loss Summit will be held beginning Friday afternoon, February 20, 2009 in the New Deal Resettlement Community of Tillery, NC, and on Saturday,, February 21, 2009 at the historic Franklinton Center at Bricks, Whitakers, NC. This year’s theme, “A Vision for the Future” will bring workshops for new alternatives for energy, solving issues of “heir property,” seeing the farm as a business and choice of entity, and in depth discussion on the 2008 Farm Bill. Presenters are NC State University Cooperative Extension’s Dennis Hazel, PhD, Raleigh; Attorneys Dania Davy and Chrystal Middleton, Land Loss Prevention Project, Durham; farmer and legislative activist Quinton Robinson, Washington, DC; Dorothy Barker, Spring Plant Cooperative, Oxford, NC; and Waymon Hinson, PhD, Chickasaw Nation, Ada, OK; Lloyd Wright, former Director of the USDA Office of Civil Rights, Silver Springs, MD. The Summit is sponsored by the NATIONAL Black Farmers & Agriculturalists Association (BFAA) and the Concerned Citizens of Tillery (CCT). For additional information, contact the BFFA office at 252-826-2800.
Professional Black Farm Groups Set the Record Straight
Issues discussed in Atlanta were legislative remedies to assist Black farmers
ATLANTA....In the spirit of cooperation and recognizing the critical need to address the issues that are causing the dramatic decline of Black owned land and the number of African American farmers, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund and the Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation agreed to meet with other Black farm groups in Atlanta on September 21, 2004. Our objective was to develop solidarity on issues that would develop and support legislative remedies to the problems in the Pigford v Veneman case and other legislation to assist Black farmers.
At the meeting in Atlanta we agreed to call ourselves a ³Conference of Black Farm Organizations and Supporters² specifically for an interim period of demanding legislative remedies. No new organization of Black farm groups was created. We are therefore very disappointed and saddened that in the aftermath of the Atlanta meeting two press releases were issued without our knowledge. Even more troubling is the fact that the September 23, 2004 press release citing a resolution was a total fabrication to put it mildly. No resolution was passed at the meeting in Atlanta. No resolution was agreed upon or even discussed.
Please understand that we have worked on behalf of African American farmers for a combined total of over 50 years. We recognize that the problems experienced by our clientele transcend politics and political parties. Therefore, our approach has been and will always be non-partisan in nature. What we also agreed upon at the meeting, however, was the need for pro-active and bi-partisan legislation to effectively address the unique problems faced by African American farmers. And, to that end, these are the goals we will continue to pursue.
For additional information please contact Ralph Paige, Executive Director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance at (404) 765 0991 and Calvin King, President of the Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation at (870) 734 1140.
Past News Items
March 4, 2008 - URGENT! - Help secure justice for the Grant family. This family continues to be attacked by USDA and Department of Justice. You can help by writing President Bush to demand that he intervene to preserve justice for this hardworking farm family. Here is a letter for you to sign and send. Click here to open a pdf of the letter below. Print, sign, and send or fax to President Bush.
Date: ________________ Fax:(202) 456-2461
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.,
NW Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
I am writing to express my concern about a case of racial harassment and discrimination facing the family of one of our prominent black national leaders. Recently U.S. Marshals delivered a Writ of Execution regarding foreclosure proceedings to Gary Grant and the other heirs of Matthew and Florenza Moore Grant in the New Deal Resettlement Community of Tillery, NC. While never denying their responsibilities for any and all debts that they incurred, the Grants have proven that they were racially discriminated against by local USDA offices. This family's Civil Rights complaints against the USDA and its former agency Farmers Home Administration (FmHA) have been proven time and time again. According to what I have discovered, even this Writ is the result of discriminatory practices by the USDA and its agent(s) on loans made to the Grants. The effect of this discrimination is that the family has accrued additional debt on loans made over 20 years ago. That this family has led Blacks in North Carolina and their community and refused to accept second-class treatment has effectively made them a target of the local agricultural power structure. In numerous ways they have not received the same consideration nor flexible assistance offered their white counterparts in the county.
As you are aware, farming is an inherently risky and capital intensive enterprise. The bulk of the debt in question for the Grants was acquired during the early 1970s and persisted due to a series of “declared disastrous” years. By aggressively pursuing the family’s debt, the local agricultural structure hoped to send a clear message to the other Blacks in the community that “they should stay in their place.” Similar small debts were easily dealt with among white farmers in the county. Mr. Grant, who was a successful farmer when he came to the former FmHA at USDA for loans, was placed on supervised loans; made loans at higher interest rates than white farmers all around him; and he, like other Black farmers, received his loans late. That this family has been in a struggle with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for more than 20 years over such a relatively small sum, is a signal that something has gone awry in the process for citizens to settle Civil Rights Complaints with the department.
I further understand that USDA, in 1996, failed to live up to a Final Judgment that covered four years of USDA discrimination against Mr. and Mrs. Grant. This is especially troubling because the document was signed by all parties, including the USDA’s Office of Civil Rights. Perhaps if this document had been executed as agreed, the Grant children would not be facing the current Writ of Execution. The USDA reneged on this document of trust just as it has with many such signed agreements involving others. Such an obvious disregard for the well-being of potentially successful small family farmers is shameful for the government offices President Lincoln originally called “the people's department.”
I did not get to know the late Mr. & Mrs. Grant, but I do know their heirs. I know that this family is a family of leaders. They are hard working, tax paying citizens who love justice and equality. Sadly, representatives of our government have dragged them through this torture and hardship because they refused to accept second-class treatment and worked to make their community a better place. In addition to being the first Black president of the Roanoke Electric Cooperative, the first Black on the North Carolina Rural Electric Cooperative Board, Superintendent of his church’s Sunday School and a church trustee, he was also an entrepreneur and served as a past-President of the Lower Halifax County NAACP. Like all of the previous NAACP leaders from the Tillery Resettlement Farms Community, Matthew Grant had his land and livelihood threatened. Although deceased, he is the only past president to still have his land, though it is under attack.
Mr. President, you have the power and influence to end this family’s struggle against racism and bigotry. You can cause these actions and any other action against this family to cease and desist. You, as the President of the United States, have the opportunity and duty to rectify the mistakes and/or oversights made by departments under your direct control and other branches of government, such as the Department of Justice (DOJ). So you are now being asked, at a time when the 2007 Farm Bill is in “Committee” - which might provide a modest sum of money for the cause of the “Socially Disadvantage” farmer - to use your power in these matters related to the Matthew and Florenza Moore Grant Family and send a clear and present signal to the DOJ, USDA and its agent FSA that you will not tolerate the mistreatment of our citizens. Your immediate attention to this matter would be greatly appreciated.
City, State, Zip
2008 "A Man Called Matthew Award" goes to Spencer D. Wood
Spencer Wood (second from left) 2008 winner of the "A Man Called Matthew Award" is pictured with descendants of Matthew Grant; Gary R. Grant (son); Evangeline Grant Briley (daughter); little Sky Cameron Myers (great-grandson); and twins, Gary R. Redding (grandson) and Haile Redding Myers (granddaughter).
Researcher finds evidence of continued discrimination toward black farmers in Terrell County, Georgia. Read more by clicking here.
Feb. 16-18, 2007 - “Returning Black Farmers to the Land: A Gathering of Minds to Develop a New Strategy” - 9th Annual Black Land Loss Summit, Tillery and Whitakers, NC
9/28/06 -Virginia Senator Allen introduces bill to help black farmers.
Bill would allow black farmers left out of Pigford to file claims.
Urgent! North Carolina Call to Action
If we are ever going to change the ills at USDA, we must find people who will come forth and say what is happening to them. So please, if you fit any of the following categories contact the BFAA office.
ONLY NORTH CAROLINA CASES AT THIS TIME.
We are currently looking for:
1. Women who have made loans or attempted to make loans at USDA
2. Women who signed loan agreements at USDA with their husbands
3. Looking for male or females who have been denied loans since 1997 at USDA
4. Looking primarily in North Carolina
Rally in Washington
Wednesday April 26, 2006
National Black Farmers Unity Rally and
March for Justice
Click here for flyer
Click Here to Give Financial Support
March 31, 2006 - Courts Continue to Deny Farmers of Color and Women
Professor Hinson Visits Tillery
Read About Professor Hinson's Visit
7th Annual National Black Land Loss Summit
The Nation Magazine Reports on Summit
"Land Up Close and Personal: Basis for Development"
Jan 2005 -
BFAA Welcomes Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns.
Judge Paul L. Friedman rejects call to reopen Pigford.
Dec 2004 - Probe Prompts Review of National Black Farmers Case.
Nov 2004 - Judiciary Committee hearing on Black Farmers Case
BFAA President Gary R. Grant testimony to Judiciary Committee.
Congressman Steve Chabot testifies that African-American farmers' constitutional rights are not safeguarded.