The chef is trying to rectify the broken promise of “40 acres and mules” by raising money to buy land to help black farmers


Chef Adrian Lipscomb was surprised last spring when unilateral donations began arriving at her Wisconsin cafes and bakeries.

Only a few days after police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, checks and envelopes containing cash began to appear.

“People were sending me money, and it didn’t help,” Lipscom told Yahoo News.

With a national call to end police atrocities against African Americans, a trend was underway to support black-owned businesses in Lip Scone restaurants. Uptowne Café & Bakery.. Donations began with a mysterious $ 100 check by mail, and more donations began to be poured through Venmo. Borrowing to black farmers in the country.

“I had to point it at something … and one thing I realized I was working on [Wisconsin] There weren’t many black farmers, “she said. 2 percent The proportion of farmers nationwide is black. “So I’m going to start an initiative to not only consider buying black land, but also to preserve the heritage of black peasants and the heritage of black diets.”

Chef Adrian Lipscom (40 acres and mules Instagram)

Chef Adrian Lipscom (40 acres and mules Instagram)

Therefore, in June of last year, Lipscombe said,40 acres and mule project, ” Broken promise Compensation for American slaves after the Civil War. According to the website, the project’s goal was to purchase 40 acres of land to develop a “safe haven to secure heritage” for black agricultural heritage.

Immediately after launching the initiative, Lipscombe GoFundMe Page, and in less than five months, she occupies 38 acres of land in St. Helena, South Carolina. Muroma Heritage, With revenue. Boosted by its success, she partnered with other groups to buy land in places such as northern New York, the Texas countryside, and some western states, ultimately benefiting black farmers. We are planning to develop it into a vast farm.

Her project raised over $ 150,000 in the first year and used it as a down payment in St. Helena for property tax payments, cost research, and the construction of a visitor center where black farmers can learn about history. intend to do something. industry.

“This 40-acre initiative is just the beginning for me,” Lipscombe said. The average cost of an acre of land in the United States starts at just over $ 3,000 and can range from $ 10,000 to $ 15,000. USDADepending on several factors, including soil and terrain.

Paddy Fields, South Carolina (Getty Images)

Paddy Fields, South Carolina (Getty Images)

The idea of ​​correcting the injustice of slavery through land allocation is not new. Just months before the Civil War in January 1865, Allied General William T. Sherman Special field order 15Reserved land along the southeastern coast for black Americans who participated in the war, “each family owns less than 40 acres of arable land.” This plan later became known as the “40 acres and mules” promise. This is a compensation effort that has never been realized.

“The order explicitly demands the settlement of black families on confiscated lands, encourages freedmen to join the Union Army to help maintain their newly acquired freedoms, and inspects settlement. Nominated a general to act as an official, “said Texas Tech University, Professor of History at Burton Myers. New Georgia Encyclopedia..

As a result of Sherman’s orders, approximately 40,000 black Americans have settled. But after President Abraham Lincoln assassinated his successor, President Andrew Johnson, in the fall of 1865, he overturned Sherman’s instructions and returned to the planter, which owned most of the land, which could be short-lived. It turned out.

With that bitter heritage in mind, the 40-acre and mule project seeks to foster black equity by reclaiming land that was rejected after being promised. Of course, Lip Scones aren’t the only ones to conclude that buying farmland can be a way to find shelters and reimbursement.

Purchased by two black women from Georgia last year and last summer 96 acres of land To create a “safe haven” from oppression, we named the fledgling community Freedom.

“It’s time to bring together friends and family to build for ourselves,” Ashley Scott, a realtor in Stonecrest, Georgia, who is president of the new region, said in an interview with Yahoo News in September. Told. “That’s the only way we can be safe. And that’s the only way this works. We have to start connecting each other.”

A photo of a group of immigrant farmers working on a truck. They are preparing for a trip to Virginia Only in July 1940. From the New York Public Library.  (Photo by Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images).

A photo of a group of immigrant farmers working on a truck. They are preparing for a trip to Virginia Only in July 1940. From the New York Public Library. (Photo by Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images).

By 1910, African Americans owned more than 14 million acres of land in American history more than any other time.Partially with a big move Discriminatory policy, Black land ownership has been reduced by 90 percent By the beginning of the 21st century.

The “major causes of black involuntary land loss” recognized by the USDA is “Heir’s property, ” Reported by ProPublica — Land that has been Inherited without will As a result, owners have become “vulnerable to laws and loopholes that allow speculators and developers to acquire their property.” Overall, heirs’ property is said to be “more than one-third of the black land in the South, 3.5 million acres, worth more than $ 28 billion.”

Lipscom’s interest in black farming comes from her business, but she says her interest in black farming is steadily increasing.

“It’s a daily routine for people to ask,’How can I get farming and land for farming?'” She said. “There is no easy answer there. There is no handbook distribution. So we can help people understand not only the methods of farming, but also the history of our farming. I want to be connected to the conduit. “

But the difficult truth is that without certain initiatives to maintain the black agricultural entrepreneurship, the culture is endangered. According to the report, only 1.3% of the 3.4 million farmers in the United States, or 45,508, are black. 2019 data From the US Department of Agriculture. By comparison, 95 percent is white.

But owning a farm alone is not the same as wealth for most black farmers.On average they are less $ 40,000 a yearCompared to the $ 190,000 earned by white farmers.

Fresh produce from greenhouse farms (Getty Images)

Fresh produce from greenhouse farms (Getty Images)

Still, a black man who owns land is the same as owning “a part of its history” that no one can take away, Kimberly Ason Simmons, African-American Studies Institute An assistant professor at the University of South Carolina told Yahoo News.

“It’s about location and the importance of location,” she said. “You own everything in the story, the connection to the place, and what happens there-good, bad, all of it.”

The provisions of President Biden’s US rescue plan, passed by Congress without a Republican vote, are: $ 4 Billion Debt Relief Program For black peasants. From experts, “The most important law Since then, for black peasants [the] Civil Rights Act “, Federal Judge Temporarily blocked Future payments. The program, also known as Section 1005, was eventually postponed because it claimed that white Florida farmers violated their right to equal protection under the law.

“The rigorous, categorical, racial remedy qualification in Section 1005 is an antithesis of flexibility,” Judge Marcia Morales Howard wrote in her opinion. “The Debt Relief Provisions apply strictly for racial reasons, regardless of other factors. Socially disadvantaged to have a qualified farm loan with an unpaid balance as of January 1, 2021. Anyone who identifies himself as belonging to a group will receive up to 120% debt relief. No one else will receive debt relief. “

For many African Americans, the decision was a reflection of past mistakes.

“Thousands of acres of land given to (and reclaimed from) enslaved African-American descendants are a permanent legacy here in South Carolina,” South Carolina’s political science and Said Todd Shaw, University of South Carolina, an associate professor of African-American studies. “Therefore, every effort to return the land to a black peasant represents a very important effort in restorative justice.”

A enslaved black American working on a plantation in the 1800s (Getty Images)

A enslaved black American working on a plantation in the 1800s (Getty Images)

Compensation has long been a controversial topic for most Americans. A Reuters / Ipsos Poll From June 2020, it turns out that only one in five Americans supported compensation in the form of “taxpayer money to pay damages to the descendants of American enslaved people.” rice field. Nearly 80% of Republicans said they didn’t support compensation, and one-third of Democrats did.

Evanston, Illinois has made history this year and became the first US city to approve a black resident compensation plan. The Evanston City Council approved the first phase of a 10-year, $ 10 million commitment to reimburse black residents who suffered discriminatory housing practices in the city between 1919 and 1969.

Several other cities and states across the country — Rhode Island Providence, Asheville, North Carolina.. , Burlington, Vermont.. , When California — We are taking steps to introduce compensation to combat systematic racism in the community.

For Lipscombe, land ownership represents the resilience of the black diaspora and needs to be protected, cultivated and preserved.

“In black farming, we have to see the beginnings and harsh realities of how and why we got here,” she said.

Cover Thumbnail Photo Illustration: Yahoo News; Photo: Afro American Newspaper / Gado / Getty Images, VW Photo / Universal Image Group via Getty Images, Mondadori via Getty Images

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