Thousands of black and middle class farmers have been thrown off their land, evicted in auctions which were often illegal by the governments own rules and regulations. Land has been confiscated and sold illegally, often based on questionable loan documents from the Farm Services Administration.
Harry Young of Owensboro, Kentucky is one of those farmers. His farm contains more than half a billion dollars worth of coal reserves. He is the only black coal operator in the US licensed to sell coal to the Tennessee Valley Authority, and yet, his land, including the coal wealth beneath it, was sold out from under him in what many say was an illegal auction.
Harry Young had sold coal to the TVA and many wonder why and how his land could have been sold for less than 10% of the value of those coal reserves.
While many African
Americans and people of color say FSA applies loan servicing procedures
in a racist manner, the federal government continues to foreclose on
middle class farmers of all races. This has lead many black
farmers to move beyond racial politics and embrace their brothers and
sisters in agriculture regardless of race. The nation's farmers
are increasingly elderly and often disabled.
To date, Harry Young has filed a class action lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Farm Services Administration-Owensboro (FSA). He continues to seek legal representation to get his day in court. So far, even as vandals steal the protest signs from his property, Harry is receiving words of support from all over the world. He is still seeking his day in court, the day which he says is his constitutional right as an American citizen.
The son of a black farmer stands next to a reporter in Washington, DC. The son's parents both died premature deaths which were brought on by problems with federal loan policies in Kentucky. Two black farmer families in one county, brought down by the Farm Services Administration. One property contains oil, the other coal. Both are no longer owned by black farmers whose families held on to the land for over a century.