[Marxism] Black Farmers' Refrain: Where's All Our Money?

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Sat Jul 31 15:11:25 MDT 2004

    Black Farmers' Refrain: Where's All Our Money?


Published: August 1, 2004

STARKVILLE, Miss. - R. L. Stevenson was bundled into a recliner, a bowl 
of prescription medicine bottles at his elbow. At 79, he can no longer 
work his farm here in Oktibbeha County, about 150 miles northeast of 
Jackson, though until he fell ill a year ago he baled hay and mended 

He is a black farmer who toiled for decades at near-subsistence levels - 
buying used equipment and dairy cows past their prime - with little of 
the government support that white farmers here received.

"I've been farming now for 70-some years," he said. "And I didn't do too 
much progress in that time."

Mr. Stevenson expected to benefit from the landmark 1999 class-action 
settlement with the United States Department of Agriculture, which 
acknowledged decades of "indifference and blatant discrimination" 
against blacks in the department's lending programs. When the settlement 
was approved, the judge hailed it as the biggest civil rights award in 
United States history, estimating that $2 billion would be paid out to 
black farmers.

The claims process was to be swift and "virtually automatic," the judge, 
Paul L. Friedman of United States District Court in Washington, wrote. 
Most of the claimants were to receive $50,000 each and $12,500 for taxes 
on that amount. Five of Mr. Stevenson's sons received the money on the 
ground that they had been rebuffed by the Agriculture Department in the 
1980's. But Mr. Stevenson, like the vast majority of those who submitted 
claims, was rejected.


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