Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts
Fighting Down on the Farm
Medium version: mp3,
2.8 MBs, 3:27
Short version: mp3,
1.4 MBs, 1:42
of people who proudly call themselves "African-Americans",
the vast majority have relatives who lived and worked on farms in
the U.S. South, either as sharecroppers (workers who farmed for
others, for a 'share' of the crop or the proceeds), or farmers whose
ancestors fought, and scraped for a patch of land to call their
who have been battling for decades against their treatment at the
hands of the Agriculture Department of the U.S. government have
reason to feel that the vaunted civil rights movement has passed
them by. Nothing so clearly highlights the class-conscious nature
of the U.S. civil rights movement as their objectives to place Blacks
in the professions or in jobs in major industry, and their unwillingness
to improve the plight of those who chose to try their hand at the
tilling of the soil.
Now, Black farmers,
angry at the meager fruits of 20 years of class-action litigation,
are staging what is becoming their own civil rights action; protests
around the offices of the U.S. Agriculture Dept., speak-outs and
public information campaigns, designed to educate and inform the
people about the situation facing those who stayed to toil the soil,
feed the people, and build a fruitful family business.
The Black farmers
in America are in trouble.
Decades of discriminatory
treatment at the hands of the local and regional offices of the
USDA, empty promises by politicians and courts, and repeated betrayals
by those who are sworn to 'protect' their interests has left them
holding the bag--and the bag is virtually empty.
Back in June,
2002, the then-U.S. Congresswoman, Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) spoke
out openly and clearly about the problems facing them.
In a June 26,
2002 News Brief item on her congressional website, McKinney assailed
both the Bush Administration and the courts for their inability,
or unwillingness, to reasonably resolve the issues facing the farmers.
of the legal ruling by the three judge panel of the U.S. District
of Columbia Court of Appeals gives legal credence to our ongoing
outrage and disappointment over the racist and wrongful actions
of the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Justice (DOJ)
and the private lawyers who represented Black farmers in the Black
Farmer Class Action Lawsuit, Pigford v. Veneman, which was supposed
to right the wrongs of years of the USDA's self-admitted discrimination
against Black farmers in
the Farm Agency's farm lending programs...
R. Abdul Mu'min
Muhammad, a syndicated columnist and spokesman for the Nation of
Islam farms, has written that the situation can be broken down into
two main perspectives; the choice of relief. One group of farmers
elected to use the courts for a class action suit. The other group
wanted to use the USDA's administrative process, because it was
believed this would result in larger individual awards.
What they have
learned, however, is that to win a lawsuit is one thing. To force
positive change, is another. The farmers did indeed win a court
action, and it was deemed, according to Muhammad, "the largest
civil rights lawsuit in the history of the country." Yet, none
of the perpetrators has been terminated. Therefore, having won in
a court, the farmers are being forced to contend with the very personnel
they complained about in their future dealings with the USDA.
president of the National Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association
(BFAA) blasted the consent decree ordered by the U.S. courts, saying,
"The decree was never workable, causing more than 20,000 Black
farmers not to be compensated adequately for the years of discrimination
and the loss of millions of acres of land and billions of dollars
in income because of the illegal, blatant racist tactics of local
FMHA and USDA officials."
McKinney, torpedoed by the conservative wing of the Democratic Party,
is no longer a member of Congress, but her words remain, and should
be a spur to action for those of us who perceive the real worth
and potential of farmlands toiled by Black hands for Black health
and wealth. Biting no tongue, she spoke directly to the problem:
"I am outraged at the conduct of the U.S. Department of Agriculture
and the United States Department of Justice Civil Division. The
decision filed by Judge Tatel confirms legally what I have said
for the past three years, these agencies have never had the intention
to correct the horrendous discrimination against Black farmers."
continue to swell throughout America's urban areas, the potential
of Black farms cannot be underestimated as an important, natural
resource that can positively impact on the daily lives and well-being
in the inner city must pay the most money for the least fresh, and
least nutritious, of life-giving foods. An intelligent program of
economic assessment and regional planning, which routes the produce
from those farms to the neighborhoods where the goods may be best
utilized, can heal two breaches urban malnutrition and economic
self-sustenance--at the same time.
To solve the
Black farmer problem may mean, ultimately, to solve our own.
Check out Mumia's
"Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life
of African and African-American People" at www.africanworld.com
The Power of Truth
is Final -- Free Mumia!
International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ
P.O. Box 19709
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Phone - 215-476-8812/ Fax - 215-476-6180
E-mail - AND
OFFER YOUR SERVICES!
Send our brotha
some LOVE and LIGHT at:
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370
WE WHO BELIEVE
IN FREEDOM CAN *NOT* REST!!
© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.