The African-American farmer in America is disappearing, especially those who own their land. With this film, we want to make people aware of the loss, of a way of life, which was and still is, a vital part of the African-American experience. The land loss numbers are staggering! In 1910, black farmers owned between 16-19 million acres of land, by 1997 they only owned 1.5 million acres. As of 2000 there were a little more than 18,000 black farmers, from a peak of 926,000 in 1920. And in Tillery’s home state of North Carolina, between 1982-1997, black-owned farms in the state went from 4,413 to 1,515, a loss of over 65%.
Willie Crute, Baskerville, Va.
"When you are born and raised on that piece of property, you become a part of that property."
Donnie Long, Chatham, Ga.
"Deny, Delay, and hope you die."
Tim Long, Chatham, Ga.
"They were mistreating my dad all through my time in school. I would hear about some of the white students in his class getting loans up in the thousands of dollars and they were turning him down for loans and his was the agriculture teacher. Teaching them what to do and how to farm."
Charles Long, Chatham, Ga.
LeVerne and Robert Williams, Roscoe, Tx
"I feared for him." In reference to her husband being shot at.
Dexter Davis, Sondheimer, La.
"The settlement caused more damage because they were able to black-list me everywhere. The settlement didn't come near to making me whole."
Walter Powell, Columbia, La.
"The black farmer, you can't find many of those now. They should be on the endangered species list. "
"My dad would always say, 'I wasn't in trouble or anything, everything was fine until I went up to defend my dad.' What was I supposed to do? I'm a man and that's my daddy, I'm suppose to defend him."
Abraham Carpenter, Jr., Grady, Ark.
"We received partial justice, never complete justice."
Michael Stovall, Town Creek, Ala.
"Have to keep on fighting, because if you don't keep fighting they've won the war."
Gary Grant, Tillery, N.C.
"One of the pieces we have not stressed in years that we've told this story, the fact that five grown black children, fully employed in the public sector, could not borrow $10,000 from a bank. Nor would the USDA allow them to assume the debt of the parents and they did it for white men all the time."
Evangeline Grant Briley, Tillery, N.C.
During a meeting with loan officers, she had enough, "Finally, I hit the table and called them white motherfuckers and told my father don't you beg these white crackers for nothing cause you don't have to."