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 bfaausnow@aol.com or tillery@aol.com. Visit the BFAA web site, www.bfaa-us.org, for more information.  Contributions are still being accepted by mail and PayPal at the web site.

© 2010 BFAA


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