|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|Contacts: Atlanta • Jerry
Heather Gray at (404) 765-0991
|Presentation given by Ralph Paige,
of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund,
July 15, 1998, at the 89th NAACP Annual Convention plenary in Atlanta
“The Plight of African American Farmers & Black Land Loss”
|I bring you greetings from the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land
Assistance Fund membership. First of all I want to take this opportunity
to thank the NAACP, Mr. Julian Bond and Mr. Kwesi Mfume for inviting the
Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund to address the
NAACP at its 89th annual convention. I want to express special
appreciation to the NAACP for elevating the issue of Black land and farm
loss to such a prominent place on its agenda. This is surely an issue of
concern for all America, especially Black America. A country this great
must have pluralistic land ownership if we are truly concerned about human
rights and dignity.
The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund is a 31 year old organization and one of the few that has been in the struggle to save Black farmers from becoming extinct.
Most of our members individually own less than 100 acres of land but collectively more than 1 million acres. However, Black America and the remaining 18,000 Black farmers collectively own nearly 5 million rural acres of land at an estimated value of over $250 million dollars. This is one of the greatest economic assets owned by Black America. It goes without saying, that this hidden asset must be protected at all costs!
The Federation of Southern Cooperatives was born out of the civil rights movement in 1967 with Black land based economic development as its vision. We work throughout the South in more than 100 of the poorest counties in the country.
Our program areas include:
Unfortunately, whether a Black loses land through foreclosure, lack of
credit, tax sales, or other reasons, the land rarely, if ever, goes to
another Black person.
Black individuals, organizations and churches should begin to purchase land and assist Blacks who are about to lose land by bidding at foreclosure sales, tax and partition sales. We have established a revolving loan fund for this purpose.
We at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives have worked through 6 administrations - from Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, to Clinton. For the first time we now have the opportunity to address the problem of Black land loss, offer remedies, and help stop Black land loss.
There are some issues that could be addressed right now to assist Black farmers and landowners. They are as follows:
Only through such a collaboration, can we stem the tide of Black land loss and restore our right to be stewards of the land. Many of our ancestors lost their lives to own land, to earn a living from the land, to raise their families in the richness of the Southern rural culture that is distinctly our own. Help us hold on to this important and valuable resource. We have a right to this land!!!
|Note: The Federation/LAF, now in its 30th year, assists Black family farmers across the South with farm management, debt restructuring, alternative crop suggestions, marketing expertise and a whole range of services to ensure family farm survivability.|
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