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Plowing and politics: Man wants justice for black farmers

Posted July 3, 2009

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— From the steps of Capitol Hill to the farm fields of rural America, a Mecklenburg County, Va., man has spent years fighting a civil rights battle.

John Boyd is president of the National Black Farmers Association. His goal is for the federal government to repay thousands of black farmers who say they were unfairly denied loans because of their race.

Boyd’s life is consumed with plowing and politics. Farmers from across the country constantly call him. He recently had 18 voice messages.

“I’ve seen the faces, and these are persons who can’t express themselves,” he said.

Man wants justice for black farmers Man wants justice for black farmers

Boyd is the voice of those farmers. He spends half his time in Washington fighting for 80,000 black farmers who sued the government and claimed they were denied loans because of their race.

“These are 80,000 persons’ lives that have been waiting over a decade,” he said.

“It keeps the fire burning in me for justice for a group of people that have been totally overlooked and mistreated,” Boyd said.

His time spent in Washington has eaten away at the time he can devote to his own farm, an occupational hazard he doesn’t seem to mind.

“Somebody got to fight the fight, and somebody got to stand up for justice. That’s what this is all about,” he said.

Boyd was part of the first discrimination lawsuit involving black farmers. In that case, the government paid 14,000 farmers. The new lawsuit covers farmers who weren't part of the original case.

The Obama administration has set aside $1.25 billion to pay back the farmers.

"This is an issue I worked on in the Senate, and I’m pleased that we are now able to close this chapter in the agency’s history and move on," said President Barack Obama. “My hope is that the farmers and their families who were denied access to USDA loans and programs will be made whole and will have the chance to rebuild their lives and their businesses.”

Boyd says that's not nearly enough. The farmers are asking for $2.5 billion.

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  • mom2threecld Jul 3, 2009

    why do people blame everything on race that don't go their way?? geez, maybe there was a valid reason for not getting a loan and NOT the race. omg i am so sick of everything being against the black race if it's not to the persons liking. grow up and get a life

  • blueskyenc Jul 3, 2009

    SingleLensReflex, your remark about the banks doesn't make sense. Banks are in business to make money - if they think they can make a loan to a good credit risk, they do it - why would they care about race? They don't! They just want to make sure they can get repaid. If your black friends or farmers had bad credit, that's either their own fault or maybe they did have bad luck. There are so many non-profits, plus places like Self-Help Credit Union, that loan $ or help "disadvantaged" people.

    To feel like you're ENTITLED to another $1 BILLION DOLLARS, especially in this economic crisis, because of RACE, is RIDICULOUS!

  • working for deadbeats Jul 3, 2009

    Whatever helps you sleep at night.

  • SingleLensReflex.SLR Jul 3, 2009

    if this news article was complete it would include more factual information about loans being withheld from black farmers. its a proven fact. And its a fact that farms without loans for new equipment did not survive. The "race card" in this situation was played by the banks, not by the farmers.

  • working for deadbeats Jul 3, 2009

    Christians were enslaved and killed thousands of years ago. I guess I am owed money from somebody for that, right?! I don't see Jewish people sreaming for handouts for their persecution that they have suffered for thousands of years. I don't think black people actually believe that they discriminated because of skin color anymore. Now it's all about freebies and race is the golden ticket.

  • Eastern N.C. Native Jul 3, 2009

    ... and on another note... I can't get financial aid because I work. I do feel discriminated against... Discriminated against for not being a minority; for working; for trying. I don't go out in the streets demanding stuff, constantly complaining, and pulling the race card.

    I guess some people just need attention.

  • Eastern N.C. Native Jul 3, 2009

    Wow... Please find something else to complain about. I'm so tired of this race card people pull when they're looking a free government handout. I guess over 1 billion isn't enough. Gotta be greedy and ask for an excess of 2 billion in free money.

    I'd be ashamed as well to ask for a handout because of my skin color. I work for a living, I am responsible, and why can't these people do the same? Our Nation, which seems to be more racially divided on a daily basis now is hurting FINANCIALLY and these people have the nerve... Wow...

    What is this National Black Farmers Association anyways? Why do you need that? Don't see a National WHITE Farmers Association. Work, earn your living, and stop complaining people. There are bigger issues in the world other than you feeling "discriminated" against all the time.

  • working for deadbeats Jul 3, 2009

    Rent-A-center, Aarons and Colortyme exist for a reason. Some people just don't have the credit for a real loan because they have bad credit from bad money decisions. Maybe these farmers could try these places. The racial divide being supported by these people is what's hurting Americas racial relations....not mean ol' white folk. Take some responsibility for YOURSELF! I know it's asking a lot.

  • blueskyenc Jul 3, 2009

    Keep in mind that there was already a lawsuit, back in 1982 I believe, that paid out millions. So this $1B is in addition to the first discrimination lawsuit.

    Mrduright - you see the anger here - I really think the racial climate is getting steadily worse. You can blame it all you want on white folks, but that doesn't help black people. If I were black, you had better believe I would be ASHAMED to ask for a handout based on the color of my skin. I take pride in WORKING for a living, and my relatives aren't in prison, they all support their children, and they don't listen to obnoxious so-called "music" about pimpin' & ho-in' & thuggin'.

    We have a black President - it is past time to do away with ALL laws regarding race. Most Americans don't care if you're green or purple or chocolate or yellow - we should ALL have common values of integrity, self-reliance, and law-abiding respect for others.

  • Ripcord Jul 3, 2009

    "Slavery did end 144 years ago but you miss one fact. Black people were not citizens could not own land and were terrorized by your ancestors. It took 100 years to get the voters rights act passed..." - mrduright

    You're uninformed. Legally speaking, the right to vote came with the 15th amendment (ratified in Feb., 1870) Black men were permitted to vote immediately after the Civil War (they could also own land in most states). The Reconstruction Acts of 1867 and 1868 stated that blacks could take part in every political process. In 1867 and 1868 at the constitutional conventions, one-third of all delegates and most of those at the South Carolina convention were black. The southern state constitutions during this period favored blacks and gave them voting rights without the earlier vote blocking rules. They could also hold public office. The 1964 Voting Rights Act simply removed some state voting restrictions (in addition to school desegregation). But facts don't matter to you.

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