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The History of Black Farmers in America

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“Long before Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act of 1862,” which offered American settlers up to 160 acre parcels of Indigenous land in the west, free Black pioneers had been clearing the heavily forested land throughout the Northwest Territory to establish homes and settlements.

“With tons of experience in their pockets, migrating west made sense and allowed Black farmers and their families a safe place to live and grow.”

the Northwest Territory

“But like most of America’s history, white settlers began to impose new laws and tactics on the once uncharted territory. Eventually, the land Black farmers cleared, plowed, and cultivated prohibited β€” either directly or indirectly β€” their existence in those spaces. Through violence, theft, and other mischievous practices, many Black farmers lost their ability to inhabit land they founded and worked on.”

westward expansion
Professor and host Henry Louis Gates Jr., Professor Imani Perry, and Professor Hasan Jeffries briefly summarize The History of Black Farmers in the United States, as well as how systemic practices of the 1800s continue to impact today’s agricultural industry.

The video is one in a series from Black History In Two Minutes (or So), a video series established by tech entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert F. Smith β€œto help preserve the African American experience and democratize online learning sources.”

selling food

Watch these related videos next:
β€’ The exceptional life of Benjamin Banneker
β€’Β Rare 1920s films of All-Black Towns β€œLiving the American Dream,” filmed by Solomon Sir Jones
β€’ Reconstruction: The Vote
β€’ The Woman’s Club Movement
β€’Β The Farm Next Door, a peek at urban farming in Atlanta
β€’Β Detroit Hives: Transforming vacant Detroit lots into urban bee farms

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