By M Santiago
James McGill is a 71 year old Vietnam veteran. He’s a 3rd generation pig farmer and has been farming for over 50 years and has never wanted to do anything else but farm. After returning from Vietnam he managed his own 520 acre farm,McGill Farms, from 1976 to 1987. He lost it all due to alleged suspect practices by a USDA lending agency. He is still farming on his families 5 acre pig farm and still dreams of self sufficiency . Mr. McGill’s story is not a common one for Black farmers in the United States and is a seldom told one. Please help me in telling his story and the story or others.
“Black farmers were the backbone of American agriculture,” said John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association. “We went from being slaves to sharecroppers. Black farmers left farming because they didn’t see the financial rewards. Instead, they saw pictures of the old South where there were racial tensions and they didn’t want that for their families.”
Many left their farms during the Depression. Then following World War II, millions of blacks migrated across the country, in part because federal officials denied them federal agricultural loans and other assistance that routinely went to whites, Boyd said. As a result, he said, many black farmers lost their land to foreclosure.
This is another personal project that I am in the process of dedicating the next 6 months to and hopefully longer. Black farmers are still around and continue to face instances where they are losing their land due to unfair practices. I will be documenting the work that Black farmers in California are doing and hopefully in other states to. I want to put a face to these farmers that are seldom seen and give them a voice and help tell their stories. In the next week or so my Kickstarter campaign will be live. I hope that everyone will be able to help out in some capacity by either donating or helping spread the word to as many people as we can. If a person can raise 50 thousand dollars to make a potato salad, then there should absolutely be no reason why this campaign should not be successful. I look forward to any help that I can get.
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