If the Obama Administration is sincerely sorry about what they did to Shirley Sherrod, they’ll push a little harder to make sure that African-American farmers receive the restitution for decades of injust treatment that they deserve. This isn’t even a partisan issue. Both Democrats and Republicans believe that the farmers should receive payments. In this Great Recession, help for black family farms to survive cannot come soon enough. This is an emergency for them and a serious insult to all African-Americans.
So I’m proud of John Boyd for promising to snarl DC’s legendary traffic in order to get this issue off the back burner. From CNN:
Beginning Thursday, the head of the National Black Farmers Association will ride a tractor to Capitol Hill to press Congress to fund a historic discrimination case settlement involving minority farmers.
John Boyd says he will make the ride on the tractor he named “Justice” each day the Senate is in session.
Last week, he showed up in front of a federal courthouse in New York on a mule — a reference to Civil War-era promises of assistance for freed African-American slaves.
“I’m sorry my tractor may slow things down, but any delay in traffic is small potatoes compared to the years of delay black farmers have endured in our pursuit of justice,” he said.
Last month, the U.S. Senate failed to approve $1.25 billion for the settlement between the U.S. Agriculture Department and black farmers, prompting finger-pointing between both parties and outrage among the farmers.
“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have both told me personally, on multiple occasions, that they support resolving and funding this case,” Boyd said. “Justice in this case should know no partisan boundaries.”
Boyd has said black farmers are losing land at a rate three times faster than other agricultural workers. He said that it takes nearly 400 days to process a black farmer’s loan request at the Agriculture Department, compared with less than 30 days for white farmers.
Black farmers shouldn’t have to wait a day longer for their due. Obama has supported black farmers both as a Senator and via the Department of Agriculture. This issue was close to Shirley Sherrod’s heart. In testament to her, Congress must appropriate these funds now. Or face a tractor named Justice in the way of business as usual.
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