Author: J.D. Vivian

Bob J. Nash: Black farmers better off, but numbers falling (Part 2)

  Editor’s note: This is the second half of a story on Bob J. Nash, who was born on a Texarkana, Ark., farm in 1947. Part 1, “Bob J. Nash – From Farm to Bill Clinton’s White House,” ran Monday, Oct. 31. Many things have changed for Bob J. Nash since he was growing up in an Arkansas farm family in the mid-1900s. Some of those things are good. For example, when he was young, African-Americans “couldn’t go to the whites’ hospital, unless we were in a wreck,” he recalled. “Later, we started getting rural health clinics. They’re now an important part of medical care for rural farmers.” Other developments, however, have not been so good, Nash noted. “In the 1920s, black farmers owned 20 million acres of farmland in the South. Today, African-Americans own only 4 million acres of farmland in the South.” And although the end of the Civil War also meant the end of slavery, not everyone of black descent benefited equally, Nash explained. “Some blacks got their ’40 acres and a mule.’ But in many more cases, the half-white kids of plantation owners got the land.” A sad irony Though suddenly free, most former slaves couldn’t afford to buy farmland. And the Department of Agriculture, which President Abraham Lincoln had created in 1862, discriminated against them by denying loans and access to beneficial programs such...

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