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Black-Owned Land and Farmers: Part 2

Event Description:

EGPS Work Group for Racial Equity Discussion Group

Black-Owned Land and Farmers: Part 2

Monday May 17,  2021 8:30 - 9:45 PM (Eastern Time - US and Canada)


Please join the Work Group for Racial Equity for Part 1 of a two-part series on Black-Owned Land and Farmers. In April and May, the Work Group for Racial Equity will be uncovering the history and legacy of Black land ownership and farming.

The unpaid, violently forced labor of enslaved Africans built the foundation of wealth of the United States, particularly from farms and plantations. Toward the end of the Civil War, Union leaders gathered with a group of black ministers in Savannah, Ga. where Gen. William T. Sherman's Special Field Order 15 set aside 400,000 acres land along the Southeast coast for formerly enslaved Africans so that "each family shall have a plot of not more than forty acres of tillable ground." This is what became known as "40 acres as a mule." However, after Lincoln's assassination, President Andrew Johnson, a forner slave owner reversed Sherman's order, giving the land back to its former Confederate owners.

In spite of this, by the 1920s, Black people owned 14% of farms in the US. However, as we have seen again and again, Black progress is often followed by white backlash, and presently, Black ownership of farmland is below 2%.

Our discussion of Black land ownership and farmers will continue centering on a podcast episode from Scene on Radio Series. Seeing White: Losing Ground.

Also, please read a brief summary of some of the history of collective Black wealth through Black land cooperatives  Black Cooperatives in the United States

And some examples of how Black collectives are working today to protect Black owned land and ensure that it remains in families  

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives / Land Assistance Fund

 Center for Heirs Property


The CARES Act allocates about 5 billion dollars to disadvantaged farmers, within which Black farmers are disproportionately represented at about 25 percent. This will provide much needed debt relief, grants, and avenues to acquiring land. On the one hand, “This is the most significant piece of legislation with respect to the arc of Black land ownership in this country,” according to Tracy Lloyd McCurty, executive director of the Black Belt Justice Center, which provides legal representation to Black farmers; on the other hand, this is a fraction of the total economic loss to Black farmers over the generations as a result of racist USDA policies and land appropriation by whites which is estimated to be between $250 and $350 billion. 


Do you consider the CARES Act a form of Reparations? Why or why not?

How do we continue to raise awareness of the systemic forces working against Black farmers?

What role can we play in continuing holding this administration accountable to the needs of Black farmers beyond these first steps, including recognizing and protecting farmers against potential backlash from these moves forward?


Please join us as we come together to share and develop our insights, take-aways, and new ideas for action steps. We invite you into this brave space of deep listening and sharing. 

Building a community of solidarity in the exchange of emotional risk-taking and vulnerability.






After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


The Work Group for Racial Equity is a "drop in' group for everyone, EGPS members and not-yet members. You are invited to participate whenever you can. We meet monthly on the third Monday evening of the month to discuss relevant books, films, podcasts and articles. Further information can be found on the EGPS website at https://egps.org/work-group-racial-equity.php




Time: Monday, May 17th, 8:30 pm - 9:45 pm

Contact #1: Christine Schmidt

Contact #2: Rudy Lucas

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