Yes Magazine has a great article out on the recent regrowth of African American farmers.  As the article explains


For decades, the U.S. Department of Agriculture discriminated against Black farmers,excluding them from farm loans and assistance. Meanwhile, racist violence in the South targeted land-owning Black farmers, whose very existence threatened the sharecropping system. These factors led to the loss of about 14 million acres of Black-owned rural land—an area nearly the size of West Virginia.

To put a plug in for one of my colleagues, Thomas Mitchell, he has an even more in depth analysis of this history in an article published in the Northwestern University Law Review back in 2005, entitled From Reconstruction to Deconstruction: Undermining Black Landownership, Political Independence, and Community through Partition Sales of Tenancies in Common, and proposes a number of reforms related to this topic.

In addition to helping African American landowners as a group stabilize their common property holdings, the federal government should restore land to black farmers who lost their land due to foreclosure by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The settlement of the Pigford class action lawsuit provides for limited land restoration, even in those cases in which the USDA played a significant role in driving successful black farmers into bankruptcy. Such broader land restoration would be consistent with the recent efforts made by countries such as South Africa to return land to individuals and communities who lost their land due to unjust governmental actions in a prior period in the country’s history. Even if land is restored to African Americans or tenants in common are given the right to reorganize their landownership under another, more stable form, poor landowners often do not have access to lawyers who can help them manage their land effectively or fend off those who seek to acquire ownership of their land against their wishes. Congress should expand the mission of legal services to allow poor landowners access to legal-service lawyers. Such an expanded vision would recognize that there is as much value in preventing those on the cusp of distress from falling into the ranks of the economically disenfranchised as there is in trying to help those already destitute survive on the margins.

He’s been working on this ever since, including in a recent law review article, Reforming Property Law to Address Devastating Land Loss, published in the Alabama Law Review.

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