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

Overview

Between 1940 and 1974, the number of African American farmers fell from 681,790 to just 45,594--a drop of 93 percent. In his hard-hitting book, historian Pete Daniel analyzes this decline and chronicles black farmers' fierce struggles to remain on the land in the face of discrimination by bureaucrats in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He exposes the shameful fact that at the very moment civil rights laws promised to end discrimination, hundreds of thousands of black farmers lost their hold on the land as they...
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Dispossession: Discrimination against African American Farmers in the Age of Civil Rights

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Overview

Between 1940 and 1974, the number of African American farmers fell from 681,790 to just 45,594--a drop of 93 percent. In his hard-hitting book, historian Pete Daniel analyzes this decline and chronicles black farmers' fierce struggles to remain on the land in the face of discrimination by bureaucrats in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He exposes the shameful fact that at the very moment civil rights laws promised to end discrimination, hundreds of thousands of black farmers lost their hold on the land as they were denied loans, information, and access to the programs essential to survival in a capital-intensive farm structure.

More than a matter of neglect of these farmers and their rights, this "passive nullification" consisted of a blizzard of bureaucratic obfuscation, blatant acts of discrimination and cronyism, violence, and intimidation. Dispossession recovers a lost chapter of the black experience in the American South, presenting a counternarrative to the conventional story of the progress achieved by the civil rights movement.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Read Dispossession. It's a riveting and timely account of the deleterious legacy of slavery. And despite the national interest in civil rights, not much competes with Dispossession."--Huffington Post

"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

"Daniel tells a fascinating, in many ways surprising, but completely infuriating story. His archival research is creative and impeccable."--Law and History 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

"An essential contribution to the rural history of the civil rights movement and to the growing history of black farm ownership."--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"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

"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

"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 Da

"Likely to stimulate renewed scholarly interest in 20th-century agricultural history, this fine book belongs in every academic library. Highly recommended. All levels/libraries."--Choice

"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."--Library Journal

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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781469602011
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 3/29/2013
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,304,272
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

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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