Since this is a positive development, I, of course, have not seen this diaried on this site, except in Black Kos. I wanted to highlight this historic development, as it is one of the only significant financial settlements that tacitly acknowledge the second enslavement of African-Americans under Jim Crow, and of the betrayal of Native Americans through policies that stripped them of their lands.
I believe this is a monumental step in a generations old fight. President Obama will get to sign the settlement owed to Native American and Black Farmers.
By a vote of 256-152, the House today approved a $4.6 billion settlement in the Pigford-Cobell lawsuits. The settlement, which passed the Senate on Nov. 9, will now make its way to President Obama, who has long advocated for its passage.
The payout is twofold for two separate lawsuits: $3.4 billion will be awarded to American Indian claimants who were jilted out of resource royalties by the Department of the Interior, and $1.2 billion will go to African-American farmers who faced racial discrimination when applying for loans with the Department of Agriculture in the '80s and '90s.
New Communities, the farming collective that was ahead of its time, and that was part of Charles and Shirley Sherrods dream....
Charles Sherrod and his friends had an audacious dream.
In it, the descendants of slaves would live and work on a huge tract of land that they would own in common. They would build a new kind of farm-based community, with its own schools and hospital. They would raise and sell their own meat and produce.
They would be independent from the dominant white farming community -— and equal to it.
Their dream was called New Communities and, for a while, they struggled to live it. during the course of 15 years, the group bought and worked the largest black-owned tract of land in the nation -— 5,700 rolling Georgia acres, crisscrossed by streams and railroad sidings.
But in 1985, it all came crashing down. New Communities had declared bankruptcy. The land and equipment were sold at auction. Much of the farm was turned into subdivision lots.
Then, years later, the U.S. Department of Agriculture made an admission: It acknowledged years of systematic discrimination against black farmers, and began compensating them.
Now, New Communities board members who had met only once or twice a year to reminisce are gathering to discuss their legal claim against the government. Some are even eyeing available farmland, daring to hope that they can rebuild.
Shirley Sherrod, Charles’ wife, never gave up hope.
‘’The dream is still there.’’
A community of equality
"I am pleased that today, the House has joined the Senate in passing the Claims Settlement Act of 2010," said Obama in a statement. "Yet, while today's vote demonstrates important progress, we must remember that much work remains to be done. And my Administration will continue our efforts to resolve claims of past discrimination made by women and Hispanic farmers and others in a fair and timely manner."
My family, who owns a farm and has since the Civil War,may benefit from this settlement. Thank you, Democrats and thank you Mr. President.
My thanks to Charles and Shirley Sherrod, two revolutionary activists who did not give up.
Earlier Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives gave final Congressional approval to a bill that would provide more than $4.55 billion to settle tens of thousands of longstanding claims brought by African-American farmers and American Indians.
This settlement provides $1.15 billion to African Americans left out of a 1999 settlement of a lawsuit, Pigford v. Glickman, which Sherrod referred to passionately during opening comments at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation discuss of the plight of black farmers in America.
"Sixty-thousand-plus farmers have been waiting all this time to get their claims filed, and I'm just really happy that we're finally getting to the point where something is happening," Sherrod said after speaking to a crowd of 130 people.
"This doesn't solve everything. But at least this brings some type of resolution to the matter. It's good to see that -- at the least -- this country will do something for these farmers out there who still need justice."