District Fray Magazine: The Path to Land Justice
“Only 1.4 percent of farmers in America today – about 48,000 – are Black, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Compared to the historical peak in 1920 when there were more than 925,000 Black farms, the current figure begs the question: What’s changed?
The answer doesn’t lie in trends or shifting demographics, but intentional, systematic efforts to push Black farmers off their land, starting from the moment Andrew Johnson took office and continuing through the civil rights era, the effects of which are still reverberating today.
“People don’t get the depth of what happened,” says Paula Johnson, the curator of food history at the National Museum of American History (NMAH). “In the civil rights era, to have this systematic discrimination both locally and at the federal government level, that resulted in the loss of a significant percentage of acreage is something that just doesn’t jive with people’s ideas about the civil rights movement.””
Featured photo courtesy of Dreaming Out Loud.