Dispossession: Discrimination against African American Farmers in the Age of Civil Rights

Dispossession: Discrimination against African American Farmers in the Age of Civil Rights

by Pete Daniel

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Dispossession: Discrimination against African American Farmers in the Age of Civil Rights


Dispossession: Discrimination against African American Farmers in the Age of Civil Rights

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In nine richly detailed and tightly argued chapters, Daniel (The Shadow of Slavery: Peonage in the South, 1901–1969), award-winning historian of the U.S. South, exposes the systemic racism that dispossessed 93 of every 100 U.S. black farmers of their land and their livelihood between 1940 and 1974, reducing their numbers from 681,790 to 45,594. While the 1940s Double-V crusade for democracy abroad and at home extended into the 1950s and 1960s civil rights movement, black farmers were nearly wiped out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in cahoots with agribusiness, Daniel shows. Intentionally twisting federal policy on farm aid, the USDA cut blacks off from credit, information, and public services. Black farmers' $1 billion-plus class-action lawsuit in Pigford v. Glickman (1999) proved decades-long discrimination, as Daniel documents. VERDICT Soberingly revealing the dark underside of an era hailed for black success against racism, Daniel's work exposes sickening, irreparable, racist destruction that compels reconception of popular memories of a generation of civil rights victories. This book belongs in any serious collection on U.S. civil rights, federal farm policy, or 20th-century America.—Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe
From the Publisher
Daniel's rich description of the people and processes that blocked black farmers' access to the resources they needed to stay on the land is an essential guide for scholars seeking to understand post-1960s developments and persistent racial inequality in the twenty-first century.—Journal of Southern History

Southern farmers struggled to keep up with changes in technology and policy, economics and politics, labor relations and out-migration. African American farmers bore the additional burden of crippling discrimination. . . . With customary passion, Pete Daniel methodically demonstrates that the USDA bears much of the blame. Dispossession catalogs decades of locally administered and federally sanctioned racism that permeated this powerful government agency's activities within the South.—North Carolina Historical Review

This thoroughly researched and clearly written account of USDA discrimination against black farmers merits reading by anyone interested in agricultural and southern history.—American Historical Review

Well-written and impeccably researched . . . [and] an invaluable and welcomed addition to the ever-expanding landscape of Civil Rights historiography.—Journal of the North Carolina Association of Historians

The critical exposure of discrimination at all levels of government is both informative and provocative and is a welcome addition to the historiographical conversation.—H-1960s

Daniel's Dispossession is provocative, beautifully crafted, and a fitting continuation of his tremendous contribution to our understanding of the fundamental changes in the United States' agricultural systems during the twentieth century.—Journal of American History

Product Details

The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Daniel's book documents the countless discriminatory practices of the USDA, which unrelentingly undermined Afro-American farmers' ability to succeed. He tells of the personal agony experienced by both Afro-American farmers and Afro-American employees of the USDA. The book exposes how USDA bureaucrats stripped Afro-Americans not only of their rights, but also, arguably, of their citizenship.—Timothy C. Pigford, lead plaintiff, Pigford v. Glickman

Meet the Author

Pete Daniel has been both a professor of history and a public historian. He has served as president of the Southern Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians, and he currently lives in Washington, D.C. This is his seventh book.

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