06-19-2018  5:25 am      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

Unite Oregon Hosts ‘Mourn Pray Love, and Take Action’ June 20

Community is invited to gather at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 6 p.m. on World Refugee Day ...

MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

Recipients include Oregon DACA Coalition, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, Komemma Cultural Protection Association ...

CareOregon Awards $250,000 for Housing Projects

Recipients include Rogue Retreat, Bridges to Change, Luke Dorf, Transition Projects and Bridge Meadows ...

The Honorable Willie L. Brown to Receive NAACP Spingarn Medal

The award recognizes Brown’s lifelong commitment to the community, equality and civil rights ...

Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture

New Smithsonian exhibit looks at how Oprah Winfrey shaped American culture and vice versa ...

Prosecutor: Oregon man justified in shooting near hotel

BEND, Ore. (AP) — A heavy equipment operator was legally justified when he shot and wounded a knife-wielding man last month outside an Oregon hotel, a prosecutor said Monday.However, Robert Garris was foolish to appoint himself "sheriff of the Days Inn" and initiate a confrontation with the...

Some forest trails remain closed long after 2017 wildfire

IDANHA, Ore. (AP) — Some trails in Oregon's Willamette National Forest remain closed because of damage from a wildfire that scorched the area last year.The Whitewater Trail into the Jefferson Park area remains closed. Other trails, including some in the Fall Creek area near Eugene, also are...

Border separations ripple through midterm campaigns

Wrenching scenes of migrant children being separated from their parents at the southern border are roiling campaigns ahead of midterm elections, emboldening Democrats on the often-fraught issue of immigration while forcing an increasing number of Republicans to break from President Donald Trump on...

Spokane man convicted in 2015 deadly shooting

MOSES LAKE, Wash. (AP) — A Spokane man has been convicted of killing a Moses Lake teenager during a 2015 robbery attempt.The Columbia Basin Herald reports Jeremiah Smith was found guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, first-degree assault and first-degree unlawful possession...

OPINION

What Happened? Assessing the Singapore Summit

For all its weaknesses, we are better off having had the summit than not ...

Redlining Settlement Fails to Provide Strong Penalties

A recent settlement of a federal redlining lawsuit is yet another sign that justice is still being denied ...

5 Lessons on Peace I Learned from My Cat Soleil

Dr. Jasmine Streeter takes some cues on comfort from her cat ...

Research Suggests Suicides By Racial and Ethnic Minorities are Undercounted

Sociologist Dr. Kimya Dennis describes barriers to culturally-specific suicide research and treatment ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Border separations ripple through midterm campaigns

Wrenching scenes of migrant children being separated from their parents at the southern border are roiling campaigns ahead of midterm elections, emboldening Democrats on the often-fraught issue of immigration while forcing an increasing number of Republicans to break from President Donald Trump on...

Germany: Syrian teen on trial over anti-Semitic assault

BERLIN (AP) — A 19-year-old from Syria is on trial in Berlin over an assault in the German capital on an Israeli wearing a skullcap.The young man is charged with bodily harm and slander. The April 17 attack caused nationwide outrage and fueled concerns over anti-Semitism in Germany.German...

City where many slaves entered US to apologize for slavery

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina city where almost half of all the slaves brought to the United States first set foot on American soil is ready to apologize for its role in the slave trade.The resolution expected to be passed by the Charleston City Council on Tuesday offers a...

ENTERTAINMENT

In 'Jurassic World,' a dino-sized animal-rights parable

NEW YORK (AP) — The dinosaurs of "Jurassic Park" are many things. They are special-effects wonders. They are unruly house guests. And they are some of the biggest, most foot-stomping metaphors around.Since Steven Spielberg's 1993 original, the dinos of "Jurassic Park" — many of them...

Immigration detention policy becomes major issue in media

NEW YORK (AP) — In a phone conversation with her executive producer over the weekend, "CBS This Morning" anchor Gayle King wondered if there wasn't more the network could do on the story of children being separated from parents through the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration...

Adam Levine, Behati Prinsloo share baby photo

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine spent his first Father's Day as a dad of two.Supermodel Behati Prinsloo shared a photo on Instagram of the 39-year-old holding their second daughter, Gio Grace, who was born in February. Their first daughter, Dusty Rose, is nearly 2 years...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

A big stink erupts over landfills ringing Russia's capital

KOLOMNA, Russia (AP) — Walking to a store in March, Olga Yevseyeva was hit by the familiar, noxious stench...

US could back 1st pot-derived medicine, and some are worried

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A British pharmaceutical company is getting closer to a decision on whether...

Army splits with West Point grad who touted communist revolt

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — The images Spenser Rapone posted on Twitter from his West Point graduation were...

North Korea's Kim meets with Chinese President Xi in Beijing

BEIJING (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday at the...

Twin brothers reunited 74 years after WWII death at Normandy

COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France (AP) — For decades, he was known only as Unknown X-9352 at a World War II...

France's Macron admonishes teenager; video goes viral

PARIS (AP) — A video of French President Emmanuel Macron strongly admonishing a teenager who called him by...

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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