Thursday, December 16, 2010

Questions About the Pigford II Settlement?

Black Farmers Case
Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation, Case No. 08-mc-0511 (PLF) (D.D.C).
If you have questions about the Pigford II Settlement signed by President Barack Obama on Wednesday, December 8, 2010, you can go to: or call 1-866-950-5547. This web site and toll free number have been established to help people understand what this bill does.

If you have questions after that, please feel free to contact the BFAA office in Tillery, NC.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Under the Cloak of Darkness


December 10, 2010


Contact: Gary R. Grant, President at (252) 826-2800


Tillery, NC

Under the cloak of darkness in the South Court Auditorium of the White House, December 8, 2010, the first Black president of the United States signed into law H. R. 4783 which may be the very instrument that will once and for all seal the fate in exterminating Black farmers in America. Against a back drop of the American flag, with several government officials standing behind him and approximately 100 on lookers, including elected officials, Black farmers and Native Americans from several states enjoined in the Cobell Settlement case, the general mood in the room was one of "elation and excitement."

As I personally witnessed this historic occasion, feeling extremely emotional about how overwhelmed my parents, the late Matthew and Florenza Moore Grant (deceased 2001 six months apart), would be to know that their years of civil rights struggles helped lead to the reality of an elected African American president, I thought too, of the horror of the hardships and heart break of my late parents, who filed their discrimination suit against their USDA local office more than 30 years ago, yet have never received their compensation for their settlement through the Administrative Process (1996), and other Black farmers who have died never having had closure to their discrimination claims against the USDA.
I also thought about my late brother Richard D. Grant (deceased 2004), a farmer and Viet Nam Veteran who died way to early from the stress of twenty-five plus years of struggle to get justice for discrimination against him.

There can be no doubt about President Obama's commitment to complete this historic legislation, since he was the Senator who introduced a bill when he was the only black Senator in the U. S. Senate. After his statement to the group and signing the bill, President Obama seemed more eager to shake the hands of the legislative members present than those hard working, suffering farmers and advocates for Pigford and seemed to lack a warm connection to the lowly farmer. Perhaps he should take Shirley Sherrod up on her invitation, and I offer the same, come out to rural America and meet some real struggling citizens.

Since I have been privileged to meet with two other presidents on this issue, the noted difference is that President Clinton took the time to pose with each Black farmer as he entered the room. President Bush did not rush from the room after addressing the "black leaders" and allowed time for photographs to be taken, including candid shots.

And certainly, Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), John Lewis (D-GA) Maxine Waters (D-CA), and many others must be given credit for their many years of hard work and standing firmly behind the scenes working to make both Pigford I and now Pigford II possible.

Entering the White House on Wednesday, December 8, 2010 was reminiscent of my first opportunity to meet a sitting president, Bill Clinton, on a cold and frigid December (1997) night that I also term "under the cloak of darkness," when a meeting with Black farmers had to be changed to an integrated meeting with "small family farmers" so that the tenor of the meeting would be "politically correct," even though it was only just Black farmers who had filed a class action against the USDA in August of 1997.

Or the fact that President George Bush met with some three hundred "Black leaders" and held a private meeting with a couple of Republican Black farmers from Georgia who had supported the ouster of a great Black representative, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (GA), as some source of political commensurate payment for the struggle of Black farmers.

Seemingly forgotten in the process are those Black farmers who are in the Administrative Process or have outstanding court claims, like my parents, not to mention those who filed Civil Rights claims during the "Bush years" who are now threatened with loss of their claims because of the Statutes of Limitations being used against them since the Bush Administration did pretty much as the Reagan Administration by stripping the office of Civil Rights and not following up on filed claims.

Interestingly and conspicuously forgotten on this occasion was Tim Pigford for whom the class action is named, although Elouise Cobell, a Blackfoot nation member, and former USDA Secretary Dan Glickman were present.

So all in all, we close a chapter, but the story is far from being completed as the evil and recalcitrant agents of the government never lost their employment, and are now preparing for rich retirements with many benefits from having stolen the land, the livelihood, the health and for causing all manner of family destruction in the lives of so many Black farmers.

To add insult to injury, to have two current Republican U S Congressional Representatives to refer to the Pigford lawsuit as "fraud" and as a form of "reparations" while they insist on a windfall of unjust tax cuts for the wealthiest two per cent boggles the senses and reminds us once again that there is little honor bestowed on an elected Black President, and that racism threatens and is still sustainable for future generations of black and other children of color, and will be staggeringly costly for all Americans.

Want to help or learn more? Just contact the BFAA office at or or visit the BFAA web site, Please consider making a donation to assist our efforts to keep you updated and speak the truth. PayPal is available at the web site.

© 2010 BFAA

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Save the Land




Contact: Gary R. Grant at (252) 826-2800


Save the Land: Black Farmers Benefit & Rally A Success
Contact: Gary R. Grant, President (252) 826-2800


Tillery, NC -  Black Farmers Benefit & Rally A Success


On October 22-23, 2010 the Black Farmers & Agriculturalists Association (BFAA) commemorated its first Save the Land: Black Farmer Benefit and Rally. The first of this two-day event took place Friday evening, October 22, 2010 at the Tillery Community Center. Starting at four o'clock, attendees were treated to a tour of the Remembering Tillery History House by members of Concerned Citizens of Tillery (CCT). The History House journals and chronicles the Tillery Resettlement using photographs, artifacts, spirituals and video. Following the tour, friends and community residents came together to watch the two documentary films, Alaska Far Away: The Matanuska Valley and We Shall Not be Moved: The Story of the Tillery Resettlement. Both films record the trials and successes of homesteaders who joined New Deal Resettlements in regions of Alaska and North Carolina.   These are the only two such documentaries on the Resettlement Farm Era.  At the conclusion of the story on the Tillery Resettlement, viewers, lifted and engulfed in the resilience of the community, joined one another in singing "We Shall Not Be Moved".


Dr. Spencer Wood, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Kansas State University and secretary to the BFAA board  presented the audience with an introduction to the history of the New Deal Resettlement Eras of the 1930s and 1940s.


This inaugural occasion was followed up by a joyous gathering Saturday morning at Unit #46 of Tillery Resettlement Farms, part of the Moore-Grant Family Homelands. This daylong affair was well attended as the overflow of cars from the Moore Grant Memorial Gardens extended well along Roanoke Drive. Supporters from both coasts and in between: Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma, New York, Washington, D.C., and California came to Tillery to show their patronage and to reinforce the struggle for survival of Black farmers and landowners.


The talent of this event's lineup was undeniable.The day was christened with the melodious sounds of The Mighty Men of Valor, a gospel choir from Scotland Neck. Gospel recording artists Minister Malachi, AhNu and Crystal Clear, the niece of BFAA President, Gary R. Grant, appealed to the youth in the audience with Christian raps and songs of praise. Representing the struggle for justice in harmony, the R&B/Funk group, the Fruit of Labor, got the crowd on its  feet with deep grooves and heavy lyrics that not only made us dance, but made us think. One of the musical highlights of the day was the song styling of Ermitt ' Mr. Blues' Williams from St. John's Island, SC, but whose roots are in the Tillery area. Steve Wing a noted keyboardist and member of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network and Ed Whitfield of the Fund for Democratic Communities joined Mr. Blues in providing the audience with a lengthy jam session on the "front porch" which had been converted into the performing stage of the day. Lastly, national and international traveling artists Siobhan Quinn and Michael Bowers from Washington, D.C. serenaded the audience with rhythm and blues and perfect harmonies.


Why a Call for a Benefit for and History of Black Farmers 
In all the years of struggle to save Black owned land and farmers, there has not been a real Revolving Loan Fund for Black farmers since the crushing of the Land Assistance Fund in the 1970's fielded by the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, and the Land Loss Fund established by the Concerned Citizens of Tillery in the 1980's. This event will rejuvenate the Land Loss Fund as the CCT/BFAA Land Loss Fund, a national fund for assistance. Such a fund will be there for the hard and trying times to assist with:

  • Retention: Help farmers get crops in fields on time, weather financial stress, and avoid tax delinquency.
  • Acquisition: Purchase land that is threatened until the family can repurchase, provide small loans to assist new farmers who want to enter agriculture, and link sellers and buyers.
  • Advocate: Work with other groups to advocate for Black farmers and agricultural policies that benefit family farms and nutritional food.
  • Educate: Continue education on the significance of Black land and agriculture for the well being of all.

And as you well know, there are many other ways to volunteer to assist with this event. Just contact the BFAA office at or Visit the BFAA web site,, for more information.  Contributions are still being accepted by mail and PayPal at the web site.

© 2010 BFAA


Friday, April 17, 2009

A Real Look at the Pigford vs. Glickman

It has been my intention for some time to find a way to bring to the attention of the general public who believe that the Black farmers in America have been paid, through the now historic Pigford vs. Glickman, Secretary of the USDA, for years of discrimination. The law suit was filed in August of 1998 and was deemed closed on April 4, 1999 after a “fairness” hearing. Quickly, the law suit was (1) a Class Action; (2) it had two “Tracks”- A for minimal proof, and B for a “preponderance of evidence;” (3) three of the most damning requirements were a) the naming of a “similarly situated White farmer” who was funded at the same time the Black farmer was denied; and b) the Adjudicator would receive challenges from the very officers and offices that had discriminated against the farmer; (3) that in settlement or debt write off would be counted as income to the farmer and reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

What the American public failed to realize is that the “Class” had an average age of 60. Therefore, the very people seeking justice were those who had survived Jim Crow, and many cases real plantation life, especially the deeper you went into the South. So these farmers had not only been denied access to loans and government programs, they had been denied access to education and basic rights of being able to register to vote, and then would have to have some extraordinary courage to actually go the polls and vote. Fortunately for me, my father and mother were one of the few farmers who had completed high school, could read and write, had educated his children “to get a better job,” but not educated away from the farm and the land.

During the struggle to save our farmland, Dad would often remind us that “the only legacy the Black farmer had to leave his children was the land.” What a profound statement. A people who had amassed more than sixteen million acres of land through some of the most treacherous times in America’s history, those who were the “middle class” in many of the Black communities building churches and schools and owners of small businesses that employed other Blacks, and though most of my generation would say the work was pure hell, these independent business people provided summer employment for many teenagers (please let us not debate this issue) too, and genuinely believed that their government would protect them.

The Black farmer and landowner and the small independent business men and women were actually major sustainers of the Civil Rights Movement in the South by being able to put up there land to bail the demonstrators out house and feed them with real food from home grown gardens and pasture raised meat. However, this “little” contribution has paled in comparison to the stories of the northern dollars that came to pay travel and other expenses for the freedom riders.

So a group of the least expected citizens of the United States; those who were least educated formally, and those who truly trusted their government to do right by them settled the largest Civil Rights claim against the government in history. Now, isn’t it interesting that in 1996 when the first African American was appointed Secretary of the USDA, that there was a law passed to tax all Civil Rights Awards and Settlements with the government.

Each day, the national office of the Black Farmers & Agriculturalists Association (BFAA) receives from five to seven calls regarding the Pigford Class. Forty per cent of them are members of the class still trying to get their case through Adjudicator and/or the Monitor. Fifty percent are those who have been fooled along the way by a break-a-way group from BFAA who took people for a ride by taking money from them through a scheme that the people believed would get them into the Pigford Class. And the other ten percent are actually claimants that have tracking numbers and may have an opportunity to pursue their claims under the Black farmer section of the 2008 Farm Bill.

Periodically, I will send short stories here that will help people know that the Black farmer is still struggling and still attempting to seek justice from a government that actually allowed racism and discrimination to be part of its laws. Hopefully, sensitive people will understand that you cannot deny an entire population to be denied its rights and expect that same population to come forth without questioning a government that continues to allow these practices to rule.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pigford Class Up Again

Congress finally passed the 2007 Farm Bill in 2008. One component to it is an amendment that will allow more than 60 thousand LATE CLAIMS to the now historic PIGFORD VS USDA CLASS ACTION. However, many people are under the impression that the law suit has been reopened. BFAA makes it very clear that the law suit is not re-opened for new claims. Hopefully people are not being taken in by those who would mislead them.

From what we here at BFFA understand, here is how the new legislation works:

You must have a letter from the Arbitrator saying that you were denied because your claim was late. If you have lost your letter, then the Monitor’s Office (1-877-924-7483) will have a Tracking Number for you. The Monitor’s Office is open Monday - Friday. Even if you cannot find your letter, if you truly have a late claim, your name will be there.

Then you will need to get an attorney. What congress has done only allows for you to see if you qualify as a Pigford Claimant. You will still need to prove that you or your relative was discriminated against.

If you need an attorney, we can suggest that you contact the Land Loss Prevention Project (LLPP) in North Carolina at 1-800-672-5839 or you contact Chestnut and Sanders at 1-866-492-6200 or 334-975-9264 in Alabama

If you have further questions, please feel free to contact the BFAA office at 252-826-2800.

Hopefully everyone is aware that BFAA is a volunteer organization and any contributions are gladly accepted in order that we might be able to keep the organization going. There is no paid staff.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pigford Claimants and Reopening Pigford Case

June 3, 2008

Dear Pigford Claimant:

FINALLY A DECISION!!!! Congress has passed a bill that will allow those who filed late for the Pigford Class Action, Black farmers law suit, to seek damages. One draw back to this congressional action is that there is a $100 million cap to pay the more than 60,000 claims. BFAA is working with Attorney Rose Sanders to have the cap lifted, but cannot promise anything. At any rate, if you have a claim in, have a denial letter and a tracking number, you will be allowed to file a lawsuit or participate in a class action lawsuit to pursue your claim. You will need good legal council, and BFAA can with good conscious recommends the firm of CHESTNUT, SANDERS, SANDERS, PETTAWAY & CAMPBELL, L.L.C as one such firm. You can reach this firm at 1-866-492-6200 (toll free).

In the past Pigford case, attorney fees were paid by the government. But the new legislation does not a re-open the old Pigford case. Therefore, all of the terms are not clear, but it looks as if the claimant will have to pay attorney fees.

If you are looking for a lawyer and or legal firm to represent you in this matter, please call Rose Sanders at your earliest convenience. Sanders has assured BFAA that if attorney fees must be paid by the claimant their Firm's will be reasonable.

For the past ten years, this firm has served thousands of farmers honestly and respectfully.

If you have any concerns or questions, please contact the BFAA office at

252-826-2800 or call the law firm at 1-866-492-6200.

Yours for the Survival of Black Farmers,

Gary R. Grant, President

Monday, March 17, 2008

An Older Post; Obama Doesn't Respond Until After Fourth Invitation

February 3, 2008

Via Fax: (202) 228-4260 fax

The Honorable Barack Obama
713 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Obama:

When I wrote to you initially (12/2/07) requesting you to speak at the 10th National Black Land Loss Summit, it was as your status as A Senator form Illinois who had supported Black farmers across the country by offering up an amendment to the 2007 Farm Bill supporting late claimers in the historic Pigford Class Action. My second letter (2nd letter - 12/31/07) was of the same nature. My third and fourth letters (3rd letter 1/22/08) began to address the possibility of support for your campaign and citizens from across the country making the same request with financial support if they so desired.

Disappointed I am, and many others, that you will not be able to join us at the 10th National Black Land Loss Summit. I do want you to know that I understand and know that you have a very busy schedule, and we probably would not have been notified if you could come until a close date to the time of the Summit. And, I am appreciative that your Washington office did finally respond to someone and the message reached me that neither you, nor anyone from your campaign, would be able to be with us on February 16, 2008 here in rural northeaster North Carolina in the 1st Congressional District represented by the Honorable G.K. Butterfield.

However, in so stating my regrets and disenchantment, let it be known that I am doing so mildly because I am more than disappointed that this organization sent you four (4) letters of request by fax and mail, and had many citizens from around the country write to you and your campaign regarding your possible visit, but we never heard anything from you or your campaign. This is very unsettling since your campaign is based on change and calling for a “New Day” in the country, one that is inclusive and, as your wife stated in a speech I heard recently on TV, “…giving a little respect and dignity” for all of us.

I recently wrote to President George W. Bush regarding an issue of a Black farm family. Yes, I did expect a reply from him even though I am sure he checked and found that I am a life long registered voting Democrat and my name did not appear on his contributors list, no matter how small the contribution. And no, I did not get a response signed by President Bush, but I did get a response from the White House. It was disappointing as well, but at least they acknowledged that the issue and I exist. Regrettably, I cannot say the same here.

Black land loss is not a North Carolina issue, and evidently you are aware of this or you would not have introduced the amendment to the 2007 Farm Bill to support the late Pigford Claimants. As I stated in one of the four letters I sent you, “people come from as many as twenty (20) states to attend the Black Land Loss Summit.” Your support for the Pigford Class late claims is admirable and says you are concerned about how poor and working people are making it in this country, and that if they have been mistreated, they should have their day in court. But alas, not to acknowledge requests is deplorable.

Also, to my knowledge, the last presidential candidate who came through northeastern North Carolina with a message of “hope” was not disappointed in the reception that he found both in numbers and dollars. We could, and still can, have people to stand by you in the same manner.

I am not sure if I will receive a response to this letter or if it will be treated like the other four sent. However, I am notifying you that I am sending this letter to Congressman Butterfield and thanking him for his rapid follow through on a request of one of his constituents. A copy will be placed on the BFAA website, and a copy will be filed in the archives of the Remembering Tillery History Project for those who study the Black farmers issue and the presidential races of this era so they will have access to and know of this great disappointment.

Wishing you all the best,

Gary R. Grant
President, BFAA