Bringing Civil Rights to the ‘Last Plantation’ – The Washington Post

[…Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Vernon Parker said he couldn’t help but see the old man when he looked into the eyes of black farmers during a meeting several weeks ago in Mississippi. Black and other minority farmers have complained about discrimination in agriculture for nearly a century.

They were denied loans that white farmers got, illegally stripped of their land and shut out of the federal agriculture assistance system by a series of tactics. The number of black farmers has fallen dramatically, from nearly 1 million in 1920 to about 15,000 today.

As of December, the USDA has paid $634 million to nearly 13,000 black farmers as part of a discrimination settlement, according to the department’s Web site. But the settlement represents only a fraction of the number of court complaints by minority farmers against the department.]…

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