02-16-2020  11:05 pm   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Trump Appointees Weigh Plan to Build Pipeline in Oregon

If the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves the project, which lacks state permits, it would likely set up a court battle over state's rights

Oregon Lawmakers Ask U.S. Attorney to Investigate Whether Local Police Violated Black Man’s Civil Rights

U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer said this racial targeting of Michael Fesser "reflects the worst abuses of African-Americans in our nation’s modern history"

DA to Investigate West Linn Cops Handling of Wrongful Arrest

Former West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus had his officers initiate an unwarranted, racially motivated surveillance and arrest of a Black Portland man as a favor to the chief’s fishing buddy

State and Local Leaders Push Back Against Fair Housing Changes

Trump administration proposes weakened regulation, tracking of housing discrimination

NEWS BRIEFS

Seattle Pacific University Hosts Music Events

Seattle Pacific University invites the public to a series of free music events during the months of February and March ...

A Celebration of Portland’s Role in the Negro Leagues to be Held Thursday, Feb. 20

The community is invited for a celebration of Black History Month and the 100th anniversary of Negro League Baseball in America ...

Kresge Foundation Selects PCC To Participate in Its National Boost Initiative

The $495,000 grant awarded to PCC and Albina Head Start will help connect low-income residents and students to services and...

Attorney Jamila Taylor Announces Run for State House of Representatives in Washington

Taylor pledges to continue outgoing Rep. Pellicciotti’s commitment to open, accountable government in a statement released today ...

Legislation Introduced to Prohibit Irresponsible Government Use of Facial Recognition Technology

The technology heightens the risk of over-surveillance and over-policing, especially in communities of color ...

Jury decides convicted Oregon meth dealer should lose home

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Yamhill County jury has concluded that police can seize the home of a woman convicted of a felony drug crime under Oregon’s civil forfeiture law.Sheryl Sublet, 62, pleaded guilty in 2018 to to selling less than 1,000 grams of methamphetamine, The...

Police seek suspect who robbed 3 Portland banks in 1 hour

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A man robbed three Portland banks in less than one hour last week, according to the Portland Police Bureau.The robberies occurred Friday, The Oregonian/Oregon Live reported.The man wore glasses, a black beanie and flannel shirt.He robbed the Bank of the West on...

OPINION

Black America is Facing a Housing Crisis

As the cost of housing soars the homeless population jumps 12 percent, the number of people renting grows and homeownership falls ...

Trump Expands Muslim Ban to Target Africans

Under the new ban on countries, four out of five people who will be excluded are Africans ...

Martin Luther King Day is an Opportunity for Service

Find out where you can volunteer and make a difference to the community ...

Looking to 2020 — Put Your Vote to WORK!

Ronald Reagan, who turned his back on organized labor and started America’s middle-class into a tailspin, has recently been voted by this administration’s NLRB into the Labor Hall of Fame ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Rival Democrats accuse Bloomberg of trying to 'buy' election

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — With the Nevada caucuses less than a week away, Democratic presidential candidates campaigning this weekend were fixated on a rival who wasn't contesting the state. Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg all targeted...

Teammates appear to stop Marega leaving after racist abuse

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — FC Porto striker Moussa Marega, who tried to walk off the field after being the target of racist abuse from fans, faced apparent attempts Sunday by his own teammates and opposition players to prevent him from leaving. Marega, who is black and plays for Mali, was...

The Latest: Nevada's lieutenant governor endorses Biden

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Latest on the 2020 presidential campaign (all times PST):3:30 p.m.Joe Biden has picked up another endorsement from a top Nevada politician, with Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall announcing that she will back the former vice president’s White House bid.Marshall joins two of...

ENTERTAINMENT

Snoop Dogg apologizes to Gayle King for rant over Bryant

NEW YORK (AP) — After days of blistering criticism, Snoop Dogg has finally apologized to Gayle King for attacking her over her interview with former basketball star Lisa Leslie about the late Kobe Bryant.“Two wrongs don't make no right. when you're wrong, you gotta fix it," he said in...

Voigt shocked paper ran her photo with Freni's obituary

Deborah Voigt was in California earlier this week when she got a text from a friend on the East Coast."So sorry to hear the news of your passing," read the Monday message.The Gazzetta di Parma newspaper in Italy had run an obituary of Mirella Freni, the great Italian soprano who died Sunday at age...

Lizzo talks diversity, self-confidence and femininity

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Fresh from winning three Grammys, singer Lizzo visited Mexico City for a private concert, surprising her fans with acoustic versions of her hits and a toast with tequila.The star from Detroit, who won best pop solo performance (“Truth Hurts”), best...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Father Josh: A married Catholic priest in a celibate world

DALLAS (AP) — The priest wakes up at 4 a.m. on the days he celebrates the early Mass, sipping coffee and...

Rains postpones Daytona 500, dampening event, Trump's visit

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Daytona 500 has been postponed by rain for the first time since 2012,...

All-Star weekend, as expected, was about honoring Kobe

CHICAGO (AP) — It has become one of the NBA’s most revered traditions: On the morning of the NBA...

Banksy's Valentine's Day mural covered after it was defaced

LONDON (AP) — The family that owns a house in southwest England where an artwork from Banksy appeared in...

Boyfriend of British TV presenter heartbroken by her death

LONDON (AP) — The boyfriend of Caroline Flack, the former British TV host for the controversial reality...

UN: Antarctic high temp records will take months to verify

BERLIN (AP) — Record high temperatures reportedly measured in Antarctica will take months to verify, the...

McMenamins
Freddie Allen NNPA Washington Correspondent

Black FarmersWASHINGTON (NNPA) – For decades, Black farmers fought the United States Department of Agriculture over racial discrimination. The farmers, mostly in the south, lost crops, their farms and their homes. Some farmers grew old and died waiting for the slow hands of justice to turn in their favor, but those that still toil in the fields can proclaim victory, the government has finally started cutting checks in the $1.2 billion settlement case known as "Pigford II."

Tim Pigford, a corn and soybean farmer from southeastern North Carolina, said that USDA officials denied his loan application because he was Black. He even testified before Congress in 1984. By 1998, what became known as the Pigford's case evolved into a class action racial discrimination lawsuit that included Black farmers who were denied loans and other federal aid from the government from 1981 to 1996. The government settled the case in 1999.

Pigford, eventually backed out of the landmark case that bears his name and was awarded a separated individual payout.

"Pigford II" included Black farmers who missed the filing deadline, but also suffered hardships in receiving aid from the USDA. The farmers, roughly 18,000 of them, will each receive $50,000 plus an additional $12,500 for debt associated with federal taxes.

The judgment is the largest civil rights settlement in United States history.

Even as some advocates for Black farmers declared victory in the case, most agree that the settlement payments won't go far enough to make up for the wholesale devastation of rural Black communities and the loss of land ownership at the hands of government officials.

"For many Black farmers, the settlement is not going to buy them a new farm with new equipment and put them back into business. That's not what it's going to do," said John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association.

Boyd said, for an elderly Black farmer over 65 years old, the settlement would make the coming years a little more comfortable, pay some bills or help grandkids with college tuition.

Boyd, who has advocated for Black farmers for nearly 30 years, added: "The settlement was never designed to make us completely whole. I don't know if you can put a dollar figure on that."

Still, Boyd said the settlement was a big victory for Black farmers and a big victory for Black people.

Boyd said at times he wanted to give up and that he heard "no" so many times he began to think of "nos" as "maybes."

When Boyd wanted to give up, he remembered the pain and suffering carved into the faces of Black farmers that he met and tried to over the years. Many of them had worse stories than his own encounter with a county supervisor that they said spit on him after denying him a loan.

"That's what kept me going it was the faces, it was the stories, it was the pain and suffering it was all the land that was lost," said Boyd.

According to the USDA, Black farm ownership peaked in 1920 at 925,710. By 1982, the number of Black-owned farms had plummeted to 33,250. A 1998 USDA report found that, "The decline of the African American farmer has taken place at a rate that is three times that of white farmers."

Since 1920, nearly 12 million acres has slipped from the hands of Black farmers.

The United States Commission on Civil Rights found that the Farmers Home Admistration, "may have hindered the efforts of black small farm operators to remain a viable force in agriculture" and that the USDA and FHA failed to "provide equal opportunities in farm credit programs."

Critics have charged that the Pigford settlement and claim process is rife with fraud, and that some who alleged discrimination never attempted to farm or receive loan assistance from the USDA. But Boyd said that those allegations are an insult to Black farmers.

"We made the South what it is, we made this country what it is. We made cotton king," said Boyd. "…If that Black farmer or Black land owner felt that they were discriminated against by the government, they deserved a right to go through that process. I didn't say everybody deserved a check. I never said that."

Gary Grant, head of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, said that from 1981-1996. Black farmers in North Carolina lost nearly 300,000 acres totaling $1.2 billion in lost assets in North Carolina alone.

"Fifty thousand dollars to a farmer is not a lot of money," said Grant.

Farmers didn't get their land back, they didn't get their equipment back they didn't get their homes back, and Grant said, that tax-burdens often put Black farmers in worst shape than they were in before the settlement.

In a press statement on the Pigford II settlement payments, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said: "The Pigford I and II class action lawsuits attempted to address a history of discrimination by the Department of Agriculture.  Between 1983 and 1997, thousands of African American famers were denied loans solely because of their race. These discriminatory practices resulted in severe economic consequences for farmers, often preventing them from maintaining and keeping their farms."

Fudge continued: "Nearly 14 years after the first Pigford case was filed, I am pleased this chapter of discrimination in the history of the Department of Agriculture is closed and bureaucracy will no longer keep these farmers from receiving their due justice."

Some argue, however that the chapter is still open and Black farmers face extinction if they don't continue to fight.

Even as the settlement checks go out, the future of Black farming looks grim. Black farmers are counting on a youth infusion to revitalize industry.

"Nothing has changed at the USDA, despite the settlement," said Grant, who still doesn't trust the USDA. "We can't leave it alone."

Grant added: "This country has destroyed a way of life (family farming and that doesn't matter if you're Black or White) and devastated Black communities by the destruction of the agricultural plain, which was the economic engine in rural society."

Grant acknowledged that sharecropping memories still haunt southern Blacks, because it was such a painful part of our history. But he maintains that Black farmers sent their children off to college and forgot to teach them about the power of land ownership. That was a mistake.

Boyd said that the Black community needs to improve awareness of the value of land ownership.

"A landless culture is a powerless culture. If you don't have any land you don't have any power in this country," said Boyd.

Boyd added: "If you can buy a new Cadillac or a new Mercedes Benz you can also afford five acres in the country. Whatever you need to do in this [nation], if you have land, you can get it done."

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