July 17 , 2008  

Contact: Heather Gray 404 765 0991

Civil Rights Icon John Lewis To Be Honored At The
Federation of Southern Cooperatives 41st Celebration in Birmingham

ATLANTA…On August 14-16, 2008 the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund will celebrate 41 years of serving the rural south through building cooperatives and saving Black-owned land. In a comprehensive model of rural development, the Federation was built on the work of the civil rights movement with courageous leaders such as John Lewis – an icon of the movement for justice in the United States.

On August 14, 2008 at the Sheraton Birmingham in Birmingham, Alabama the Federation will award the Honorable John Lewis (D-GA) with the Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement Award. This is in acknowledgment of Lewis’ outstanding leadership that has transformed laws and policies that have led to a more just society. His contributions are unparalleled. (Click here to donate online.)

Event Chair this year of the Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement Award Dinner is the Honorable Artur Davis (D-AL).

The Estelle Witherspoon event will begin with the Honoree Reception at 5:30 PM at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (520 16th Street, N) with the honoree John Lewis and event chair Artur Davis; a General Reception at 6:00 PM. at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, Ballroom Foyer and the Program and Dinner at 7:00 PM Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, Ballroom. The hotel is located at 2101 Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard Birmingham, Alabama 35203. (Please go to our website for more information about John Lewis and the Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement Award Dinner.)

On August 15-16, 2008 the Annual Meeting will continue at the Federation’s Training and Research Center in Epes, Alabama. On August the 15 started a 9AM there will be workshops and panels throughout the day primarily focusing on the 2008 Farm Bill and how it benefits small farmers. Other workshops will include the “Women in Agriculture”, information forestry and specifically about long-leaf pine trees, and a tour of the Federation’s Training Center will also be conducted during the weekend.

The US Secretary of Agriculture, Ed Schafer, will be attending and speaking at the annual meeting on Friday, August 15 at 1 PM at the Federation’s Training Center. In addition, there will be representatives from numerous USDA agencies who will also share information about the Farm Bill as it relates to their department within the USDA.

Importantly, for Black farmers there was also included in the Farm Bill a provision to assist farmers who attempted to file late in the Pigford Class Action Lawsuit filed by Black farmers against the USDA. Attorneys will be speaking about this new effort to assist farmers who have yet had the opportunity to file a claim in Pigford case.

If you would like to contribute toward our fundraiser on the 14th of August or contribute to the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund to help us continue our cooperative development work and save Black owned land, please send a check or money order to the Federation of Southern Cooperatives at 2769 Church Street, East Point, GA 30344 or contribute on-line at

For additional information, please contact the Federation’s office in Atlanta at 404 765 0991 or the Epes, Alabama office at 205 652 9676.

Note: The Federation/LAF, now in its 40th 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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