09 02 2014
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In Memphis Tenn., the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association rallied on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, with Occupy Memphis.

Association president Thomas Burrell spoke to the protesters about the suffering of poor Black farmers, who were discriminated against by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for decades, according to The Commercial Appeal. A class-action lawsuit recently awarded the farmers more than $1 billion in compensation. The downtown rally on Martin Luther King Jr. Day was part of a national effort to unite the, mostly White, Occupy Wall Street protesters, whose main concern is economic injustice, with African American groups that also are concerned about the widening gap between the rich and the poor.

Also on the King holiday, hundreds of Black farmers in North Carolina, who say they were unfairly denied loans and other assistance for years from the Agriculture Department, are taking steps to claim their share of the $1 billion settlement.

WRAL-TV reported the farmers traveled Monday to Durham file claims. Attorneys were on hand to help with applications at no cost.

Last year, President Barack Obama signed into law the settlement that covers 58,000 Black farmers nationwide. Most eligible claims amount to about $50,000 per family.

Farmer Troy Murray says the money will help, but it won't heal the scar.

The settlement arises from a class-action lawsuit known as the Pigford case after Timothy Pigford, a Black farmer from North Carolina who was an original plaintiff.

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