Tags Black Farmers
Tag: Black Farmers
One of the most important conferences hosted in Oakland over this past year for the Black community has been the Black Urban Growers Conference. With several hundred people attending, there seems to be a lot of interest surrounding one of the most fundamental things that human beings do: grow food to eat. I talked with Kevin Cartwright, who worked with the organizing committee to make this conference happen about his thoughts on the gathering.
The Black Urban Growers Conference takes place this weekend. Some of the presenters will be local author and urban gardener Menhuam Ayele, local healthy food and social justice advocate Paula Beal, and organic gardener, educator, broadcaster and Hip Hop artist DJ Cavem, hailing from Colorado. I caught up with organizer Kelly Carlisle, who also runs the Oakland non-profit Acta Non Verba Urban Farm, to fill us in.
No one with Chokwe Lumumba’s grassroots organizing experience, and no one who has so openly challenged white supremacy has ever been elected mayor of a major American city. And, as Jackson native, scholar and activist Tom Head has written, he has the distinct advantage of promoting democratic economic policies as both a community organizer and a public official.
Throughout American history, African-Americans have landed on the short end of discrimination. So, as I surfed through the website of the National Black Farmers Association, my attention was immediately captured by a glaring banner stating, “Black Farmers Awarded $1.15 Billion in Settlement.”
For decades, Black farmers dealt with devastating discrimination from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Because of it, many lost their land. It cost them dearly, and it took the government years to admit it. The Senate needs to appropriate the funds for Pigford II, lest the shame grow even deeper.
I am concerned that Congress will not act to fully fund the Black farmers settlement before it expires. By agreement amongst the parties it had been extended 50 days from June 29, 2010. This year I have attended the funerals of many Black farmers who passed before ever seeing this case resolved.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack admitted in a press conference today, “I did not think before I acted.” It is clear from his press conference that he failed in his treatment of USDA Georgia State Rural Development Director Shirley Sherrod. Unfortunately, Secretary Vilsack has also thrown Black farmers under the bus.
In 1920, nearly 15 percent of our nation’s farmers were Black. Today, fewer than 1 percent of our nation’s farmers are Black. An official USDA marijuana study shows possible yields of 400-500 pounds per acre of high yield production utilizing natural organic methods. Should Black farmers grow marijuana as a strategy to stabilize Black land loss in America?
Marcel Diallo is a legend in Oakland for having put in over a decade of cultural work with the Black Dot Artist Collective, and now he is the main architect of a Black cultural district, the Village Bottoms Cultural District in the Lower Bottoms of West Oakland, near the old Army base.
The way we grow, distribute and prepare food should celebrate our various cultures and our shared humanity, providing not only sustenance, but justice, beauty and pleasure.
Fet Gede, a national holiday in Haiti, is the Haitian celebration of All Souls Day, celebrated Nov. 2. It is a time of both jubilant celebration and a time to fondly remember those who have passed on. For this occasion, please wear purple, black and white, the traditional colors for Gede.