The Department of Agriculture’s civil rights record is among the worst in the federal government. Black farmers have lost hundreds of billions in land and income since 1910 in large part due to federal policies—implemented by USDA—designed to drive them out of business.
Despite sporadic attempts to reform the department’s civil rights process, farmers, advocates, and reporters have continued to document widespread discrimination within the department in recent years. After Congress created a debt cancellation program for Black farmers in response to USDA’s discriminatory lending practices, opposition groups brought the program to a halt through litigation.
Our panelists will examine USDA’s civil rights record, share their experiences in the fight for debt cancellation, and analyze the legal issues at stake, many of which will have important repercussions for public policy in the coming decades.
Moderator: Safiya Charles, Reporting Fellow, The Counter Panelists: Lawrence Lucas, President Emeritus, USDA Coalition of Minority Employees, Tracy Lloyd McCurty, Executive Director, Black Belt Justice Center Keisha Stokes-Hough, HLS ’09, Senior Supervising Attorney, Southern Poverty Law Center
Date: Tuesday, Nov. 30, 12:30-1:30 pm EST
John Boyd, Jr., Founder and President, National Black Farmers Association, is a 4th generation Black Farmer in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. Boyd sued the US Dept of Agriculture (USDA) and received a Fact of Finding for Racial Discrimination Based on Race Black which led to the 1st USDA Discrimination settlement by an individual. Boyd went on to assist 10,000s of other Black and minority farmers to file discrimination complaints, lawsuits and class actions against USDA. KJ “Skippa Mak” Marley, son of Kymani Marley, is an international hip-hop artist infusing reggae and dancehall, while invoking the unmistakable musical spirit of his legendary grandfather Bob Marley to speak Truth to Power. Upon learning White Farmers are suing USDA for Reverse Discrimination to prevent the payment of $5 Billion in Emergency Relief for Black and other Farmers of Color, John Boyd and KJ Skippa Mak Marley collaborated with Big Victories and Zoo Ground Productions to release a single “The Land” to highlight the historical and ongoing racial discrimination and land loss suffered by Native Americans and Black Farmers in the United States.