Kansas City

Historic Black-owned farm town working to grow dwindling numbers of Black farmers – Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri 2021-07-16 12:38:53 –

Nicodemus, Kansas — Black-owned farms in the United States are getting fewer and fewer each year.

In 1910, black farmers made up 14% of the US agricultural population. Today, they account for only 1.4%. Bad weather, technology to integrate farming, and what many call discriminatory lending practices, have prompted countless families to sell their land.

This is happening all over the country, but the story behind the numbers is even more seriously injuring the descendants of Nicodemus, Kansas. It is a town where African Americans, who were liberated after the Civil War, live. The town is named after Nicodemus, the slave who bought his freedom.

“This has become a promised place,” said Angela Bates, a relative among the founding members of Nicodemus. This provided an opportunity for African-Americans who wanted to leave the war-torn South and Jim Crow South and seek a new life in the West. “

The original Homestead came here to cultivate thousands of acres. It gave a far greater opportunity compared to the dozens of acres that the most liberated African Americans in the South had.

“We had the meaning that agriculture is equivalent to slavery and has no part of it, but agriculture is yours that you own something and grow something. Equivalent to family ownership, land ownership, and fame. You are helping the country move forward, “said Dr. John Ella Holmes, another direct descendant of the town’s founder. It was.

Holmes is part of that Kansas Black Farmers Association.

“I’m a proud fifth-generation descendant,” she said.

But she and her family are no longer cultivating the land. In fact, Nicodemus currently has no African-Americans actively harvesting land.

Agricultural land owned by a black family is rented to white farmers, including the Angela Bates farm.

“I don’t think we can afford a combine, so I think no one but our couple actually owns the land we rent to others who are farming,” Bates said. Said. “Who can afford a John Deere tractor?”

Agricultural diversity has shrunk for decades. 100 years ago, there were more than 1 million black farmers nationwide. Today there are less than 50,000 people.

The Land Loss and Reparations Project estimates that black farmers in the South lost 90% of their land in the last century. That land loss represents the cumulative wealth and income of $ 250- $ 350 billion lost to the black agricultural community.

High operating costs, integration with agricultural technology, and bad weather are part of the decline, but these women say discriminatory lending practices have driven many black farmers out of business, especially in their own backyards.

“If we don’t do anything to reverse it and see inequality, there will be no black peasants,” Holmes said. “These are real people and real families that would be completely devastated by this.”

These women are determined to stop this decline. Bates runs a restaurant in town to support her dream of keeping her land forever.

“We enjoy being part of the legacy. It was my life’s passion to save it for future generations,” Bates said.

Holmes continues to protect the family heritage through education.

“I want you to understand that our young people are proud to be farmers,” she said.

She runs a youth camp to show students the history of Nicodemus.

“It’s educating us so we can get it back,” Holmes said.

Above the camp, Holmes has worked for years to get some grants to bring in a small house. All this is to bring the farmers back to Nicodemus.

She is planting all the seeds that this community can see re-flowering in the next few years.

“It’s exciting to see Nicodemus start revitalizing with our generation, and we feel connected and revitalized. It’s a good feeling,” Bates said. It was. “About two years ago, we were about twelve, and I began to think,” OK, Lord, twelve, twelve! ” “

However, the town now has more than 30 inhabitants, and the number continues to grow.

“It feels good, so everyone is playing their little role,” Bates said.

“We are people who have the pride and history to go against what this looks like. Our history is absolutely American history,” Holmes said.

Historic Black-owned farm town working to grow dwindling numbers of Black farmers Source link Historic Black-owned farm town working to grow dwindling numbers of Black farmers

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