Black Farmers Rally for Justice

By: Ashley Conroy
By: Ashley Conroy

Hundreds of farmers rallied in Jackson Tuesday to speak out against what they consider years of discrimination. The demonstration was part of an 8-city tour that started in Little Rock, Ark., and will end Feb. 15 in Washington, D.C.

Farmers displayed the slogan 'Years of Empty Promises'.

"We are not asking more of anything; we have earned this," said farmer Carroll Otis.

"I feel like we deserve to get some of the things we need," said Lilly Bonnet, who comes from a family of farmers.

The protest is part of an effort to receive over a billion dollar of federal stimulus money from Congress. The farmers say it's long overdue for black farmers throughout the south.

"They're losing land," said Dr. John Boyd founder of the National Black Farmers Association. "And you know when you lose your farm you just don't lose your home you lose your way of life your heritage."

And for some, that heritage dates back over a hundred years, and involved unfair treatment from the system for those who were just trying to make a living.

"Our ancestors didn't have nothing. We was poor, eating what we could eat," said Rubi Felton, who comes from a family of farmers.

And with Obama's slogan of change, the farmers say they're hoping this change trickles down into the pockets of farmers who need resources to keep their farming practices alive.

"Because sometimes they don't have the money to pay taxes, they sometimes lose that land, and so they're not able to farm anymore," said Terrion Shamburger, who comes from a family of farmers.

Congress should go ahead and appropriate the money like President Obama asked them to do," said farmer Albert Thomas.

Whatever happens on Capitol Hill, these farmers say they still hope to make a good living and share a piece of what they do with everyone else.

"And that's what I hope and pray," said Otis. "I ought to be able to work in America and use American products to feed our people."

Their next stop is Montgomery Wednesday. The group is inviting farmers from all over the south to join the rally in Washington Monday.

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