By Rep. Karen Bass ~ July 8, 2013
In a recent Capitol Hill policy discussion on U.S.-Africa trade, an African ambassador passionately proclaimed that the best thing the United States can do for Africa is to remove the negative stereotype that if one nation has a problem then the continent as a whole is damned.
The point is hard to argue with when all we hear about is Africa’s epidemic diseases, famines and despotic leaders. Too often, Africa’s trade and investment potential for American business is overshadowed by a false notion that the continent is a tinderbox, ready to ignite at any moment.
President Barack Obama’s recent visit to South Africa, Senegal and Tanzania underscores that the time has finally come to dramatically reframe how we think about and how we engage with Africa’s 54 nations. We as Americans must lose our tunnel vision and learn to see Africa as a continent of immense opportunity.
The data speaks for itself.
For more than a decade now, the world’s fastest-growing economies have been in Africa. Countries including Nigeria, Angola, Ethiopia and Mozambique have annual gross domestic product growth of 8 percent to 11 percent. With more than a billion people living on the continent and rapidly expanding middle-class and youth populations, opportunities abound to leverage new consumers and engage new leaders to connect with each other and global markets.
In 2012 alone, we saw the transition of power in several African nations to illustrate that peaceful changes in leadership are the norm rather than the exception. In Ethiopia, Malawi and Ghana, three African leaders died in office, and their successors transitioned in without military intervention or major protest.
Frankly, the United States can’t afford to cede Africa’s economic momentum to foreign competitors such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, known as the BRIC nations. While we as a nation continue to tinker with our Africa policies, China’s trade with the continent continues to expand. Last year alone, China’s trade with Africa totaled some $200 billion; we lagged behind at $95 billion.
These numbers are particularly troubling when we consider the reservoir of good will the United States enjoys on the continent, spanning both Democratic and Republican administrations.
One of President Bill Clinton’s signature accomplishments was signing into law the African Growth and Opportunities Act, which eliminates trade tariffs for African goods exported to the United States. And no one can forget the success of President George W. Bush’s efforts to address the HIV and AIDS crisis through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
Obama has similarly contributed to these legacies with efforts such as the Global Health Initiative, Feed the Future and the Young African Leaders Initiative. Despite being bogged down with a global recession and wars winding down in Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama has focused his policy on some of Africa’s most enduring and persistent challenges that have kept Africa from reaching its full potential.
During Obama’s first term, he also launched the Doing Business in Africa program to promote U.S. trade with the continent and announced the first-ever trade mission to Zambia, doubling bilateral trade between the two nations.
The affinity Africans have for the United States, which was significantly strengthened by Obama’s 2008 election, must be leveraged to ensure America holds its seat at the table and doesn’t lose ground to economic competitors.
Africa is ready to leverage trade opportunities over tired, old aid paradigms. Africans en masse say they no longer need only aid to solve their problems. Africans confidently signal that they are ready to engage the United States on trade and investment terms that will be far more transformative than the aid-based solutions of the past.
The next major event on the horizon is the reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunities Act, set to expire in 2015. It’s our nation’s pre-eminent trade arrangement with the continent and has employed hundreds of thousands of Africans, pulled millions of people out of poverty and grown industries where none previously existed.
In sum, Africa’s 54 nations are experiencing something close to a renaissance. The challenge before us is whether America is ready to participate in this new era of engagement or whether we’ll stand on the sidelines and let other nations take the lead.
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., is ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations.
Sojourner Truth (Isabella Baumfree)
NAME: Isabella Baumfree (Sojourner Truth)
BIRTHPLACE: Ulster County, New York
FAMILY BACKGROUND: Sojourner Truth was born in 1797 on the Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh estate in Swartekill, in Ulster County, a Dutch settlement in upstate New York. Her given name was Isabella Baumfree (also spelled Bomefree). She was one of 13 children born to Elizabeth and James Baumfree, also slaves on the Hardenbergh plantation. She spoke only Dutch until she was sold from her family around the age of nine. Because of the cruel treatment she suffered at the hands of a later master, she learned to speak English quickly, but had a Dutch accent for the rest of her life.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: She was first sold around age 9 when her second master (Charles Hardenbergh) died in 1808. She was sold to John Neely, along with a herd of sheep, for $100. Neely's wife and family only spoke English and beat Isabella fiercely for the frequent miscommunications. She later said that Neely once whipped her with "a bundle of rods, prepared in the embers, and bound together with cords." It was during this time that she began to find refuge in religion -- beginning the habit of praying aloud when scared or hurt. When her father once came to visit, she pleaded with him to help her. Soon after, Martinus Schryver purchased her for $105. He owned a tavern and, although the atmosphere was crude and morally questionable, it was a safer haven for Isabella.
But a year and a half later, in 1810, she was sold again to John Dumont of New Paltz, New York. Isabella suffered many hardships at the hands of Mrs. Dumont, whom Isabella later described as cruel and harsh. Although she did not explain the reasons for this treatment in her later biography narrative, historians have surmised that the unspeakable things might have been sexual abuse or harassment (see the biography on Harriet Jacobs, the only former slave to write about such), or simply the daily humiliations that slaves endured.
Sometime around 1815, she fell in love with a fellow slave named Robert, who was owned by a man named Catlin or Catton. Robert's owner forbade the relationship because he did not want his slave having children with a slave he did not own (and therefore would not own the new 'property'). One night Robert visited Isabella, but was followed by his owner and son, who beat him savagely ("bruising and mangling his head and face"), bound him and dragged him away. Robert never returned. Isabella had a daughter shortly thereafter, named Diana. In 1817, forced to submit to the will of her owner Dumont, Isabella married an older slave named Thomas. They had four children: Peter (1822), James (who died young), Elizabeth (1825), and Sophia (1826).
The state of New York began in 1799 to legislate the gradual abolition of slaves, which was to happen July 4, 1827. Dumont had promised Isabella freedom a year before the state emancipation, "if she would do well and be faithful." However, he reneged on his promise, claiming a hand injury had made her less productive. She was infuriated, having understood fairness and duty as a hallmark of the master-slave relationship. She continued working until she felt she had done enough to satisfy her sense of obligation to him -- spinning 100 pounds of wool -- then escaped before dawn with her infant daughter, Sophia. She later said:
"I did not run off, for I thought that wicked, but I walked off, believing that to be all right."
Isabella wandered, not sure where she was going, and prayed for direction. She arrived at the home of Isaac and Maria Van Wagenen (Wagener?). Soon after, Dumont arrived, insisting she come back and threatening to take her baby when she refused. Isaac offered to buy her services for the remainder of the year (until the state's emancipation took effect), which Dumont accepted for $20. Isaac and Maria insisted Isabella not call them "master" and "mistress," but rather by their given names.
Isabella immediately set to work retrieving her young son Peter. He had recently been leased by Dumont to another slaveholder, who then illegally sold Peter to an owner in Alabama. Peter was five years old. First she appealed to the Dumonts, then the other slaveholder, to no avail. A friend directed her to activist Quakers, who helped her make an official complaint in court. After months of legal proceedings, Peter returned to her, scarred and abused.
During her time with the Van Wagenens, Isabella had a life-changing religious experience -- becoming "overwhelmed with the greatness of the Divine presence" and inspired to preach. She began devotedly attending the local Methodist church and, in 1829, left Ulster County with a white evangelical teacher named Miss Gear. She quickly became known as a remarkable preacher whose influence "was miraculous." She soon met Elijah Pierson, a religious reformer who advocated strict adherence to Old Testament laws for salvation. His house was sometimes called the "Kingdom," where he led a small group of followers. Isabella became the group's housekeeper. Elijah treated her as a spiritual equal and encouraged her to preach also. Soon after, Robert Matthias arrived, who apparently took over as the group's leader, with the activities becoming increasingly bizarre. In 1834, Pierson died with only the group's members attending. His family called the coroner and the group disbanded. The Folger family, whose house the group had moved into, accused Robert and Isabella of stealing their money and poisoning Elijah. They were eventually acquitted and Robert traveled west.
Isabella settled in New York City, but she had lost what savings and possessions she had had. She resolved to leave and make her way as a traveling preacher. On June 1, 1843, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth and told friends, "The Spirit calls me [East], and I must go." She wandered in relative obscurity, depending on the kindness of strangers. In 1844, still liking the utopian cooperative ideal, she joined the Northampton Association of Education and Industry in Massachusetts. This group of 210 members lived on 500 acres of farmland, raising livestock, running grist and saw mills, and operating a silk factory. Unlike the Kingdom, the Association was founded by abolitionists to promote cooperative and productive labor. They were strongly anti-slavery, religiously tolerant, women's rights supporters, and pacifist in principles. While there, she met and worked with abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and David Ruggles. Unfortunately, the community's silk-making was not profitable enough to support itself and it disbanded in 1846 amid debt.
Sojourner went to live with one of the Association's founders, George Benson, who had established a cotton mill. Shortly thereafter, she began dictating her memoirs to Olive Gilbert, another Association member. The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave was published privately by William Lloyd Garrison in 1850. It gave her an income and increased her speaking engagements, where she sold copies of the book. She spoke about anti-slavery and women's rights, often giving personal testimony about her experiences as a slave. That same year, 1850, Benson's cotton mill failed and he left Northampton. Sojourner bought a home there for $300. In 1854, at the Ohio Woman's Rights Covention in Akron, Ohio, she gave her most famous speech -- with the legendary phrase, "Ain't I a Woman?" :
"That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud puddles, or gives me any best place, and ain't I a woman? ... I have plowed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me -- and ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man (when I could get it), and bear the lash as well -- and ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children and seen most all sold off to slavery and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me -- and ain't I woman?"
Sojourner later became involved with the popular Spiritualism religious movement of the time, through a group called the Progressive Friends, an offshoot of the Quakers. The group believed in abolition, women's rights, non-violence, and communicating with spirits. In 1857, she sold her home in Northampton and bought one in Harmonia, Michigan (just west of Battle Creek), to live with this community. In 1858, at a meeting in Silver Lake, Indiana, someone in the audience accused her of being a man (she was very tall, towering around six feet) so she opened her blouse to reveal her breasts.
During the Civil War, she spoke on the Union's behalf, as well as for enlisting black troops for the cause and freeing slaves. Her grandson James Caldwell enlisted in the 54th Regiment, Massachusetts. In 1864, she worked among freed slaves at a government refugee camp on an island in Virginia and was employed by the National Freedman's Relief Association in Washington, D.C. She also met President Abraham Lincoln in October. (A famous painting, and subsequent photographs of it, depict President Lincoln showing Sojourner the 'Lincoln Bible,' given to him by the black people of Baltimore, Maryland.) In 1863, Harriet Beecher Stowe's article "The Libyan Sibyl" appeared in the Atlantic Monthly; a romanticized description of Sojourner. (The previous year, William Story's statue of the same title, inspired by the article, won an award at the London World Exhibition.) After the Civil War ended, she continued working to help the newly freed slaves through the Freedman's Relief Association, then the Freedman's Hospital in Washington. In 1867, she moved from Harmonia to Battle Creek, converting William Merritt's "barn" into a house, for which he gave her the deed four years later.
In 1870, she began campaigning for the federal government to provide former slaves with land in the "new West." She pursued this for seven years, with little success. In 1874, after touring with her grandson Sammy Banks, he fell ill and she developed ulcers on her leg. Sammy died after an operation. She was successfully treated by Dr. Orville Guiteau, veterinarian, and headed off on speaking tours again, but had to return home due to illness once more. She did continue touring as much as she could, still campaigning for free land for former slaves. In 1879, Sojourner was delighted as many freed slaves began migrating west and north on their own, many settling in Kansas. She spent a year there helping refugees and speaking in white and black churches trying to gain support for the "Exodusters" as they tried to build new lives for themselves. This was to be her last mission.
Sojourner made a few appearances around Michigan, speaking about temperance and against capital punishment. In July of 1883, with ulcers on her legs, she sought treatment through Dr. John Harvey Kellogg at his famous Battle Creek Sanitarium. It is said he grafted some of his own skin onto her leg. Sojourner returned home with her daughters Diana and Elizabeth, their husbands and children, and died there on November 26, 1883, at 86 years old. She was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery next to her grandson. In 1890, Frances Titus, who published the third edition of Sojourner's Narrative in 1875 and became Sojourner's traveling companion after Sammy died, collected money and erected a monument on the gravesite, inadvertently inscribing "aged about 105 years." She then commissioned artist Frank Courter to paint the meeting of Sojourner and President Lincoln.
Sojourner Truth has been posthumously honored in many ways over the years:
DATE OF DEATH: November 26, 1883
PLACE OF DEATH: Battle Creek, Michigan
Braude, Ann. Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1989.
Commire, Anne, editor. Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Waterford, Conn.: Yorkin Publications, 1999-2000.
Hooks, Bell. Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism. Boston, MA: South End, 1981.
Johnston, Paul E., and Sean Wilentz. The Kingdom of Matthias. NY: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Mabee, Carleton. Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend. NY: New York University Press, 1993.
Painter, Nell Irvin. Sojourner Truth: A Life, a Symbol. NY: W.W. Norton, 1996.
Pauli, Hertha Ernestine. Her Name Was Sojourner Truth. NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1962.
Slave Narratives. NY: Library of America, 2000.
Stetson, Erlene, and Linda David. Glorying in Tribulation: The Lifework of Sojourner Truth. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 1994.
Stewart, James Brewer. Holy Warriors: The Abolitionists and American Slavery. NY: Hill and Wang, 1976.
Truth, Sojourner. Narrative of Sojourner Truth; a Bondswoman of Olden Time, Emancipated by the New York Legislature in the Early Part of the Present Century with a History of her Labors and Correspondence, Drawn from Her Book of Life. Battle Creek, MI: Published for the Author, 1878. Later printing, with introduction by Margaret Washington: NY: Vintage Books, 1993.
Source: Women in History. Sojourner Truth biography.
Last Updated: 5/1/2013. Lakewood Public Library
The United States Department of Agriculture was created, July 1862. Ja1nuary 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation began a new journey for people of African ancestry to participate in the U.S. Agriculture Industry in a new way.
Noon, Monday, December 31, 2012
California State Capitol
Black Agriculture ~ An Endangerd Species Act may help document, restore and grow: New Farmers in America.
Slavery by Another Name is a 90-minute documentary that challenges one of Americans’ most cherished assumptions: the belief that slavery in this country ended with the Emancipation Proclamation.
The film tells how even as chattel slavery came to an end in the South in 1865, thousands of African Americans were pulled back into forced labor with shocking force and brutality.
It was a system in which men, often guilty of no crime at all, were arrested, compelled to work without pay, repeatedly bought and sold, and coerced to do the bidding of masters. Tolerated by both the North and South, forced labor has lasted well into the 21th century in many places...
For most Americans and people of African ancestry globally, this is entirely new history. Together, we will heal what is hurting Black America and begin to document a new way forward, with Black Agriculture.
Slavery by Another Name gives voice to the largely forgotten victims and perpetrators of forced labor and features their descendants living today.
Click Image to Watch Documentary
The Emancipation Proclamation
An Act of Justice
by Dr. John Hope Franklin
Thursday, January 1, 1863, was a bright, crisp day in the nation's capital. The previous day had been a strenuous one for President Lincoln, but New Year's Day was to be even more strenuous. So he rose early. There was much to do, not the least of which was to put the finishing touches on the Emancipation Proclamation. At 10:45 the document was brought to the White House by Secretary of State William Seward. The President signed it, but he noticed an error in the superscription. It read, "In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my name and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed." The President had never used that form in proclamations, always preferring to say "In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand. . . ." He asked Seward to make the correction, and the formal signing would be made on the corrected copy.
The traditional New Year's Day reception at the White House began that morning at 11 o'clock. Members of the Cabinet and the diplomatic corps were among the first to arrive. Officers of the Army and Navy arrived in a body at half past 11. The public was admitted at noon, and then Seward and his son Frederick, the Assistant Secretary of State, returned with the corrected draft. The rigid laws of etiquette held the President to his duty for 3 hours, as his secretaries Nicholay and Hay observed. "Had necessity required it, he could of course have left such mere social occupation at any moment," they pointed out, "but the President saw no occasion for precipitancy. On the other hand, he probably deemed it wise that the completion of this momentous executive act should be attended by every circumstance of deliberation."
After the guests departed, the President went upstairs to his study for the signing in the presence of a few friends. No Cabinet meeting was called, and no attempt was made to have a ceremony. Later, Lincoln told F. B. Carpenter, the artist, that as he took up the pen to sign the paper, his hand shook so violently that he could not write. "I could not for a moment control my arm. I paused, and a superstitious feeling came over me which made me hesitate. . . . In a moment I remembered that I had been shaking hands for hours with several hundred people, and hence a very simple explanation of the trembling and shaking of my arm." With a hearty laugh at his own thoughts, the President proceeded to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. Just before he affixed his name to the document, he said, "I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right than I do in signing this paper."
When I made my first serious study of this document, several copies of the December 30 draft were in existence. The copies of Cabinet officers Edward Bates, Francis Blair, William Seward, and Salmon P. Chase were in the Library of Congress. The draft that the President worked with on December 31 and the morning of New Year's Day is considered the final manuscript draft. The principal parts of the text are written in the President's hand. The two paragraphs from the Preliminary Proclamation of September 22, 1862, were clipped from a printed copy and pasted on to the President's draft, "merely to save writing." The superscription and the final closing are in the hand of a clerk in the Department of State. Later in the year, Lincoln presented his copy to the ladies in charge of the Northwestern Fair in Chicago. He told them that he had some desire to retain the paper, "but if it shall contribute to the relief and comfort of the soldiers, that will be better," he said most graciously. Thomas Bryan purchased it and presented it to the Soldiers' Home in Chicago, of which he was president. The home was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Fortunately, four photographic copies of the original had been made. The official engrossed document is in the National Archives and follows Lincoln's original copy.
It is worth observing that there was no mention, in the final draft, of Lincoln's pet schemes of compensation and colonization, which were in the Preliminary Proclamation of September 22, 1862. Perhaps Lincoln was about to give up on such impracticable propositions. In the Preliminary Proclamation, the President had said that he would declare slaves in designated territories "thenceforward, and forever free." In the final draft of January 1, 1863, he was content to say that they "are, and henceforward shall be free." Nothing had been said in the preliminary draft about the use of blacks as soldiers. In the summer of 1862 the Confiscation Act had authorized the President to use blacks in any way he saw fit, and there had been some limited use of them in noncombat activities. In stating in the Proclamation that former slaves were to be received into the armed services, the President believed that he was using congressional authority to strike a mighty blow against the Confederacy.
It was late afternoon before the Proclamation was ready for transmission to the press and others. Earlier drafts had been available, and some papers, including the Washington Evening Star had used those drafts, but it was at about 8 p.m. on January 1 that the transmission of the text over the telegraph wires actually began.
Young Edward Rosewater, scarcely 20 years old, had an exciting New Year's Day. He was a mere telegraph operator in the War Department, but he knew the President and had gone to the White House reception earlier that day and had greeted him. When the President made his regular call at the telegraph office that evening, young Rosewater was on duty and was more excited than ever. He greeted the President and went back to his work. Lincoln walked over to see what Rosewater was sending out. It was the Emancipation Proclamation! If Rosewater was excited, the President seemed the picture of relaxation. After watching the young operator for a while, the President went over to the desk of Tom Eckert, the chief telegraph operator in the War Department, sat in his favorite chair, where he had written most of the Preliminary Proclamation the previous summer, and gave his feet the proper elevation. For him, it was the end of a long, busy, but perfect day.
For many others in various parts of the country, the day was just beginning, for the celebrations were not considered official until word was received that the President had actually signed the Proclamation. The slaves of the District of Columbia did not have to wait, however, for back in April 1862 the Congress had passed a law setting them free. Even so, they joined in the widespread celebrations on New Year's Day. At Israel Bethel Church, Rev. Henry McNeal Turner went out and secured a copy of the Washington Evening Star that carried the text of the Proclamation. Back at the church, Turner waved the newspaper from the pulpit and began to read the document. This was the signal for unrestrained celebration characterized by men squealing, women fainting, dogs barking, and whites and blacks shaking hands. The Washington celebrations continued far into the night. In the Navy Yard, cannons began to roar and continued for some time.
In New York the news of the Proclamation was received with mixed feelings. Blacks looked and felt happy, one reporter said, while abolitionists "looked glum and grumbled . . . that the proclamation was only given on account of military necessity." Within a week, however, there were several large celebrations in which abolitionists took part. At Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, the celebrated Henry Ward Beecher preached a commemorative sermon to an overflow audience. "The Proclamation may not free a single slave," he declared, "but it gives liberty a moral recognition." There was still another celebration at Cooper Union on January 5. Several speakers, including the veteran abolitionist Lewis Tappan, addressed the overflow audience. Music interspersed the several addresses. Two of the renditions were the "New John Brown Song" and the "Emancipation Hymn."
A veritable galaxy of leading literary figures gathered in the Music Hall in Boston to take notice of the climax of the fight that New England abolitionists had led for more than a generation. Among those present were John Greenleaf Whittier, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Francis Parkman, and Josiah Quincy. Toward the close of the meeting, Ralph Waldo Emerson read his "Boston Hymn" to the audience. In the evening, a large crowd gathered at Tremont Temple to await the news that the President had signed the Proclamation. Among the speakers were Judge Thomas Russell, Anna Dickinson, Leonard Grimes, William Wells Brown, and Frederick Douglass. Finally, it was announced that "It is coming over the wire," and pandemonium broke out! At midnight, the group had to vacate Tremont Temple, and from there they went to the Twelfth Baptist Church at the invitation of its pastor, Leonard Grimes. Soon the church was packed, and it was almost dawn when the assemblage dispersed. Frederick Douglass pronounced it a "worthy celebration of the first step on the part of the nation in its departure from the thraldom of the ages."
The trenchant observation by Douglass that the Emancipation Proclamation was but the first step could not have been more accurate. Although the Presidential decree would not free slaves in areas where the United States could not enforce the Proclamation, it sent a mighty signal both to the slaves and to the Confederacy that enslavement would no longer be tolerated. An important part of that signal was the invitation to the slaves to take up arms and participate in the fight for their own freedom. That more than 185,000 slaves as well as free blacks accepted the invitation indicates that those who had been the victims of thraldom were now among the most enthusiastic freedom fighters.
Meanwhile, no one appreciated better than Lincoln the fact that the Emancipation Proclamation had a quite limited effect in freeing the slaves directly. It should be remembered, however, that in the Proclamation he called emancipation "an act of justice," and in later weeks and months he did everything he could to confirm his view that it was An Act of Justice. And no one was more anxious than Lincoln to take the necessary additional steps to bring about actual freedom. Thus, he proposed that the Republican Party include in its 1864 platform a plank calling for the abolition of slavery by constitutional amendment. When he was "notified" of his renomination, as was the custom in those days, he singled out that plank in the platform calling for constitutional emancipation and pronounced it "a fitting and necessary conclusion to the final success of the Union cause." Early in 1865, when Congress sent the amendment to Lincoln for his signature, he is reported to have said, "This amendment is a King's cure for all the evils. It winds the whole thing up."
Despite the fact that the Proclamation did not emancipate the slaves and surely did not do what the Thirteenth Amendment did in winding things up, it is the Proclamation and not the Thirteenth Amendment that has been remembered and celebrated over the past 130 years. That should not be surprising. Americans seem not to take to celebrating legal documents. The language of such documents is not particularly inspiring, and they are the product of the deliberations of large numbers of people. We celebrate the Declaration of Independence, but not the ratification of the Constitution. Jefferson's words in the Declaration moved the emerging Americans in a way that Madison's committee of style failed to do in the Constitution.
Thus, almost annually--at least for the first hundred years--each New Year's Day was marked in many parts of the country by a grand celebration. Replete with brass band, if there was one, an African-American fire company, if there was one, and social, religious, and civic organizations, African Americans of the community would march to the courthouse, to some church, or the high school. There, they would assemble to hear the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, followed by an oration by a prominent person. The speeches varied in character and purpose. Some of them urged African Americans to insist upon equal rights; some of them urged frugality and greater attention to morals; while still others urged their listeners to harbor no ill will toward their white brethren.
As the 50th anniversary of the Proclamation approached, James Weldon Johnson, already a writer of some distinction, was serving a tour of duty as U.S. Consul in Corinto, Nicaragua. His biographer, Eugene Levy, tells us that Johnson for some time had considered writing a poem commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. In September 1912, when he read of the ceremonies marking the Preliminary Proclamation, he realized that he had only 100 days in which to write the poem. Using all of his spare time, of which there was little, Johnson hammered out "Fifty Years." There was not enough time to publish it in one of the major literary monthly journals, so he turned to the New York Times, which published it on its editorial page on January 1, 1913.
Addressing his fellow African Americans in the first stanzas, Johnson said:
O Brothers mine, to-day we stand
Where half a century sweeps our ken,
Since God, through Lincoln's ready hand,
Struck off our bonds and made us men.
Just fifty years--a winter's day--
As runs the history of a race;
Yet, as we look back o'er the day,
How distant seems our starting place!
Then, in a more assertive tone, making certain that humility did not replace self-confidence, he said:
This land is ours by right of birth,
This land is ours by right of toil
We helped to turn its virgin earth,
Our sweat is in its fruitful soil.
To gain these fruits that have been earned,
To hold these fields that have been won,
Our arms have strained, our backs have burned,
Bent bare beneath a ruthless sun.
Then should we speak but servile words,
Or shall we hang our heads in shame?
Stand back of new-come foreign hordes,
And fear our heritage to claim?
No! stand erect and without fear,
And for our foes let this suffice--
We've bought a rightful sonship here,
And we have more than paid the price. . . .
That for which millions prayed and sighed
That for which tens of thousands fought,
For which so many freely died,
God cannot let it come to naught.
Something else was diluting the celebrations of the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. It was bad enough that a casual reading of the Proclamation made clear that it did not set the slaves free. It was also clear that neither the Reconstruction amendments nor the legislation and Executive orders of subsequent years had propelled African Americans much closer to real freedom and true equality. The physical violence, the wholesale disfranchisement, and the widespread degradation of blacks in every conceivable form merely demonstrated the resourcefulness and creativity of those white Americans who were determined to deny basic constitutional rights to their black brothers.
Several years before 1963, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People began to use the motto "Free by '63." Other groups adopted the motto and focused more attention on the drive for equality. Many leaders were especially sensitive to the significance of the Emancipation Centennial in pointing up racial inequality in American life. On September 22, 1962, when Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York spoke in Washington to mark the opening of the exhibit of the Preliminary Proclamation, "the state's most treasured possession," he said, "the very existence of the document stirs our conscience with the knowledge that Lincoln's vision of a nation truly fulfilling its spiritual heritage is not yet achieved."
During the centennial year itself, the United States Commission on Civil Rights presented to the President a report on the history of civil rights, most of which I wrote on contract with the Commission. Knowing that I would be out of the country during most of the centennial year, I published my history of the Emancipation Proclamation as my contribution to the observance.
On Lincoln's birthday in 1963, President and Mrs. Kennedy received more than a thousand black and white citizens at the White House and presented to each of them a copy of the report of the Civil Rights Commission, called Freedom to the Free. Speaking at Gettysburg later that year, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson said, "Until justice is blind, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men's skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact." President Kennedy took note of the absence of equality when he said, "Surely, in 1963, 100 years after emancipation, it should not be necessary for any American citizen to demonstrate in the streets for an opportunity to stop at a hotel, or eat at a lunch counter . . . on the same terms as any other customer."
Although it is now possible for most African Americans to eat at a lunch counter in most parts of the United States, the extension of these civilities has been accompanied by subtle, yet barbarous forms of discrimination. These forms extend from redlining in the sale of real estate to discrimination in employment to the maladministration of justice. In issuing the Emancipation Proclamation and wording it as he did, Lincoln went as far as he felt the law permitted him to go. In subsequent months he went a bit further, inch by inch, until before his death he was calling for the enfranchisement of some blacks. The difference between the position of Lincoln in 1863 and Americans in 1993 is that our leaders in high places seem not to have either the humanity or the courage of Lincoln. The law itself is no longer an obstruction to justice and equality, but it is the people who live under the law who are themselves an obvious obstruction to justice. One can only hope that sooner rather than later we can all find the courage to live under the spirit of the Emancipation Proclamation and under the laws that flowed from its inspiration.
This essay is based on a talk given by John Hope Franklin at the National Archives, January 4, 1993, on the occasion of the 130th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
John Hope Franklin has taught at Fisk University, the University of Chicago, and most recently, Duke University, where he is James B. Duke Professor of History Emeritus. Past president of the American Historical Association and the Society of Phi Beta Kappa, his publications include From Slavery to Freedom (1947), The Emancipation Proclamation (1963), and Race and History: Selected Essays, 1938-1988 (1990).
Black Agriculture Summit
October 20 -22, 2012
Los Angeles, California
Black Agriculture producers, once nearly 15% of all U.S. Agriculture producers are today barely above 1% of all U.S. producers, back from the brink of extinction, as an endangered species throughout the United States of America.
Our journey towards a greater measure of freedom continues at our 3rd Annual, Black Agriculture Summit, the path is narrow, difficult and dangerous, yet essential for the restoration of our traditional greatness as a people.
Today, new possibilities for global equity and equal opportunity are on full display in Los Angeles, the #1 California county for Black Agriculture producers, in the #1 Agriculture State in America.
Los Angeles County is the entertainment, manufacturing, and international trade capital of America.
With over $544 billion in annual output, Los Angeles County ranks among the worlds largest economies. Its GDP is larger than Switzerland, Sweden, and even Saudi Arabia. The Countys population of nearly 10 million would make it the 8th largest state in the United States.
The authentic African contributions to the establishment of Los Angeles builds upon a solid foundation for our "Faith to Farm Initiative." Together, we will help identify faith-based leaders and communities choose, A New Way Forward, returning to the "Garden of Eden" for guidance toward producing better health outcomes for our global communities both home and abroad.
Our Faith to Farm Initiative showcases our interfaith scientific methodology for job creation and career opportunity by utilizing cultural identification, technical education and wealth creation showcasing an modern "Parable of the Vineyard."
Federal District Court Judge Friedman has ruled and approved process as outlined in U.S. Law that allows Pigford II claimants to receive up to 1.25 billion dollars of compensation for past discrimination, an equal amount is proposed for our Global Black Agriculture Development Fund to leverage a renaissance of Black Agriculture.
The clock for the 6 month period to submit a Pigford II claim began November 14, 2011 and ended May 11, 2012. Successful claimants must prepare today for new opportunities and should expect payments as part of the celebrations for the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, part of our journey towards freedom in America.
Our California-Pan African Council on Trade and Commerce will outline essential cultural relationships that prepare a new generation of Black Agriculturalists for global opportunities in alignment with U.S. President Barack Obama Administration and 3 billion dollar commitments from the Grow Africa Partnership.
Today, I can announce a new global effort, bringing together all global players for a shared effort African governments and donor countries, which agreed to align their donations, and private sector players, international as well as non-governmental organizations, said President Obama, We will stay focused on clear goals, boosting farmers income and helping 50 million people lift themselves out of poverty. We can unleash the change that reduces hunger and malnutrition.
Our 3rd Annual, Black Agriculture Summit will bring together local, national and international leaders: including socially responsible businesses and community organizations toward restoring Agriculture as the Foundation of Black Culture.
Highlights for our 3rd Annual, Black Agriculture Summit 2012
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Taste of Soul LA
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Faith to Farm Agri-Cultural Tourism
Monday, October 22, 2012
California Pan-African Council on International Trade
Detroit Renaissance Center
~ 45th Anniversary ~
"Our California Grown"
Black Agriculture Celebration
Dr. Maulana Karenga
Sacramento, California ~ Khubaka, Michael Harris
For 45 years, Kwanzaa is a growing living, active, social practice.
Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in the aftermath of the Watts uprising in Los Angeles, California, utilzing the best of ancient African traditions and appropriate modern technology.
While correcting her son Marquette Frye, Mother Frye, at the hands of LAPD, was reportedly knocked to the ground, setting off a sequence of events that continues to provide a shinning light of healing from personal chaos andmasscommunity destruction.
The 1960's, remains an amazing decade of revolutionary change throughout America and the world.
In an American context, from 1760's to 1960's people of African descentwere treated largely as non-human beings by law and by 1860, official U.S. Supreme Court law, ruled the land,enslaved or free, the Black man has no rights the White man is bound to respect. Lest we forget the amazing journey towards freedom...
Through generations of physical bondage, bloody sacrafice and strategic collective action, people of African descent along with supporters of all cultural backgrounds have fostered a more perfect union, indeed change continues to come,in America.
Clearly, the struggle for freedom equality andour own self-identity in America began long ago with the very first captured African human beings enslaved, disenfranchised and dehumanized. Today, a multilevel challenge to heal from the inside out, remains for a people disconnected from the source. Kwanzaa provides a consistent methodology.
Growing up as a Black Farmerin Maryland, Dr. Karengaremains inspired by the agricultural harvest festivals in Africa and he re-created a similar festival for America.
He and his wife Tiamoyo arevery active, working in the vineyard and utilizing the gifts that have been given unto them,amazing scholars with few peers on planet earth, in my humble opinion.
Kwanzaa, is derived from the Kiswahili (East African language) phrase, "matunda ya kwanza," which means "honoring the first fruits of the harvest" and the first celebration occured on December 26, 1966, Santa Monica, California.
Many people practice the principles of Kwanzaa year-round and other families or community groups will set up a table or alter decorated with the essential symbols that represent the reinforce the principles of Kwanzaa:
The Mkeka is a straw mat onto which all of the other objects will be placed. The Mkeka symbolizes the experiences and traditions of our ancestors, which forms the foundation on which our own lives are built.
Kinara is a candleholder that represents the original African foundation from which the world population owes a great debt and holds the Mishumaa Saba.
Mishumaa Saba are the seven candles which represent the seven principles (Nguzo Saba) and are held by the Kinara. The colors of the candles are red, green and black and sit in the Kinara in the following order from left to right: three red, one black and three green. One candle is lit each night of Kwanzaa starting with the black, symbolizing unity and then alternating between the red and green candles, beginning with the red.
Mazoa are the fruits and vegetables placed in a basket and set up on the table to be shared. They are eaten in honor of Black Agriculturalists and others who cultivate the land to produce the bounty of the harvest.
Muhindi, or corn, is placed on the table for each child in the household. If there are no children in the household, one Muhindi is still added to represent the children and future of our community.
Kikombe cha Umoja is the unity cup and represents family and community unity. Once filled with water, a measure is poured out in honor and remembrance of our ancestors and signifigant people in our lives who positively impacted our growth.
The Zawadi are educational gifts or heritage symbols to help make us better people by committing ourselves to think good thoughts, acts,and behavior which will, in turn,benefit the community. "heritage symbol" reminding the children of the past and the future.
Each evening or dayduring Kwanzaa, the family or community will gather to light a candle, pray, sing, and discuss the day'shighlighted principle of the Nguzo Saba, 7 principles:
Umoja means unity. It is a principle to strive for in the family, community, nation and race.
Kujichagulia means self-determination. It represents the responsibility to create our own destiny.
Ujima means collective work and responsibility. It is the commitment to building the community together and to solving one another's problems together.
Nia means purpose. It is the goal of restoring African-American people toour original greatness, being responsible to both our ancestors and our descendants.
Ujamaa means collective economics. It is the idea of building and maintaining our own businesses and profiting from them.
Kuumba means creativity. Creativity must be used to constantly improve one's community and leave it better than it was in the past.
Imani means faith. It is believing in ourselves, our families, our educators and, the righteousness of the African-American struggle.
The highlight for the Agriculture based holiday is the Karamu, a feast held on the sixth night (December 31), that brings families and communities together to give thanks to the Creator for their accomplishments during the year.
This feast includes a meaningful ceremony followed by lots of eating, drinking, dancing and, Zawadi, practical gift giving that reinforces the principles of Kwanzaa.
Although the holiday is marked by seven specific days in the year, Kwanzaa is an introduction to a way of life, an expression of being of African descent in the world.
The seven principles should be woven into the every day lives of African-Americans of all ages in order to help us understand the significance ofour past and build towards the future, united in the strength of our people, one aim, one people with one destiny.
Black Agriculture Awareness Week
July 8 - July 14, 2013
Creating New Opportunities: Awareness, Education, Job Creation, Career Development, Outreach, and Volunteerism
What is Black Ag Awareness Week?
Black Agriculture Awareness Week is a week set aside to recognize and celebrate Black Agriculture, while bringing awareness to the needs and the decline of Black Agricultural Producers; as well as focus attention on the African American community reguarding food and food choices
When Is Black Ag Awareness Week?
Black Ag Awareness Week is celebrated July 8, 2012 -July 14, 2012 honoringGeorge Washington Carver's Birthday.
Who Hosts Black Ag Awareness Week?
Healthy Solutions hosts the national campaign. However, the awareness efforts in individual communities across America are as influential - if not more influential - than the broad-scale effort.
A planning Guide and Toolkits will be produced to allow for communities the opportunity to host events in celebration of this vital week.
Healthy Solutions also partners with several organizations and businesses nationally that work to make this week happen.
What Is Black Ag Awareness Week All About?
Black Ag Awareness Week is about recognizing, educating, and celebrating the contribution of African Americans, and People of African Descent, to agriculture in our everyday lives.
The National Black Ag Awareness Week encourages everyone to:
Understand how the decline in Black Agricultural Producers is an issue that needs immediate attention.
Educate youth to want to pursue Agriculture as a viable option to build a foundation for themselves and communities.
Appreciate the many agriculturally related accomplishments that benefit not just black agricultural producers, but agriculture as a whole, and impact us on a daily basis.
Bring awareness to food and agricultural issues in the African American community as a whole
Why Celebrate Black Agriculture?
Why not?! Agriculture provides almost everything we eat, use and wear, but few people truly recognize or understand the part that Black producers, scientist, chemist, and African Americans in general have played to make Global Agriculture what it is today. Oftentimes we see pictures of farms and food and the true picture of Black Agriculture is not represented.
We feel there is no better time to celebrate those who paved the way for agriculture in the US while educating our people, and bringing awareness to the fact that black farmers may soon become extinct if we do not act now by educating and training our youth, and our communities to pursue agriculture.
The saying that there is No Culture Without Agriculture will become truer than ever as Black Agriculture will become extinct without immediate action and the awareness brought about by weeks set aside to insure that a culture, food, farmers, land, and heritage will not be lost.
What Can I Do to Help?
Get involved! Your participation in Black Ag Awareness Weekis critical in helping us spread this message about black agriculture. If you are interested in planning an event contact us today.
Of course, there are other ways you can lend your support, including sending a letter to your local newspaper, sponsoring outreach activities, volunteering on local black farms, hosting educational events with our toolkit, hosting a Black Agriculture Community Market Day, advocating for your local store to feature food from a Black Producer for this week, hosting a day of Prayer and Healing Day at your place of Worship, calling your Congressional representative, providing in-kind donations to get the word out or simply purchasing from Black Producers this week.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Rosa Parks Day: Unmet Transportation Needs
International Year for People of African Descent
by Khubaka, Michael Harris
Sacramento, CA ~ Rosa Parks is our Modern Day Mother of the Civil Rights Movement in America.
Rosais lovinglyreflected inthe sweet scent of our U.S. National Flower andsharp thornin the stem of our unique crimson tide red rose.
We are humbled by the honor to lead a team effort that continues to build a strong tradition for Rosa Parks Day in California. Since 2000, building upon the work of Assemblymember Herb Wesson andCA Secretary of State Bill Jones, wecontinue to celebrate with officialCalifornia recognitionthe first Monday,after her birthday February 4, this year February 7, 2011, Rosa Parks Day.
Together, we seek to nurture with diligence and consistency, expanding implementation of U.S. Transportation public policy of equity and equal opportunity that impacts global logistics, trade and commerce, in the historic West Florida traditionalongthe Black Warrior River Basin of Alabama, long before U.S. aquisition of the State of Alamaba.
Centuries of ongoing battles towards tangible equity and equal opportunity throughout the U.S. Transportation industry is clearly on global display with the California High Speed Rail Authority.
Estimated at well over 75 billion dollars over the next decade, the California High Speed Rail Authority is probably the largest public transportation project in America.
Ongoing legal and ethical challenges to implement a fully open and competitive procurement system currently allocating billions of dollars of tax payers resources is a natural escalation of the historic transportation public policy battles along the Barbary Coast of California.
Queen Califia, Mammy Pleasant, Biddy Mason, Sylvia Starks, Nancy Gouch, Mary Sugg and many other examples of women of resolve, provide the essential creative feminine spiritual foundation upon which wecelebratethe legacy of Rosa Parks, yes, shewas arrested and jailed for refusing to give up her seat to a white man in the colored section in the back of the bus.
In authentic context, it remainsa profoundsingular peaceful protest, an example of how one women, our fine, sweet, butter pecan sista of African descent,"set it off."
That December 1 spark, created a chain of events that forever changedinterstate transportation, school desegregation and contracting authority for small, minority and women-owned transportation relatedbusinesses, globally.
2011 Rosa Parks Day, we will join President Barak Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and spotlight global attention to our transformative U.S. Transportation legacy icon.
The legacy of Rosa Parkscontinues to reduce the disparity gaps of equity and equal opportunity throughout all aspects ofsociety.
Today, we have a wonderful new direction with our White House Council on Women and Girls, empowering women of all age, ethnic background, religion, sexual preference... pure feminine energy.
Yet, some U.S. Congress members seem ready to the values and beliefs of 1955 Alabama where a white man would demand a black women to get up out of a seat federallyfunded with tax payerresources and/or seek to restrict contracting authority for job creation and career developmentin majority minority communities throughout America, simply amazing rhetoric, and very serious.
Bipartisan congressional action continues to reduce gender inequality because it it good public policy in a democracy to continue to strive toward equality with the majority population.
More than a few transportationleadersdo notrecall that it was the Rosa Parks Historic bus leading President Barack Obamas Inauguration Parade and his first act as Commander in Chief was the signing the Lilly Ledbetter Act, authorizing equal pay for equal work for men and women, this is a new beginning worthy of celebration.
"Clearly, people of African descent are no longer legally required to pay the fare, step off the bus and board the bus from the rear. Progressive transportation industry leaders continue to be central to the struggle for civil and human rights throughout America and beyond, states Michael Harris, agribusiness consultant and public policy analyst based in Sacramento, CA."
Many residents in our Sacramento poor and socially disadvantaged communities are being left behind in regional Green Job and Careers development because of dismal public transit options to the prime locations where green financing and investment opportunities are supported with government resources, venture capital and vast foreign private capital movement, our friends nationwide share similary challenges."
Many Black communities nationwide, including throughout the Central Valley of California, the lowest-paid workers have the longest commutes to work, which limits the geographic range of job opportunities for residents in communities with high unemployment.
For example, recent deep cuts throughout the Sacramento Regional Transit District, affects the cities poorest residents the most, especially modern day skilled women workers, like Rosa Parks, who utilize public transportation.
In Washington, D.C., housing and transportation costs almost 50 percent of the median household income. We will highlight, with an elevated focus on Rosa Parks Day, at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference, featuring U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to alert and seek financial support and collaborative partners to expand our efforts toward equity and equal opportunity.
Historic and current examples where the Federal Transit Administration had to use regulatory authority to deny project funding where clear violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were found, again is a wake-up call many pubic policy officials need to balance business opportunity for political consideration.
Angela Glover Blackwell, the founder and chief executive officer of the research and advocacy organization, PolicyLink, is a powerful voice internationallyto understand,the central role that transportation policy has always played in the struggle for civil rights, especially for low-income Americans.
Socially disadvantaged people of color, especially people of African descent, historically remain the poorest segment of the population throughout America; the legacy of previous condition of servitude continues an open festering sore without targeted resources to the cause.
Globally, the civil and human rights advocates can utilize 2011 Rosa Parks Day, United Nations International Year for People of African Descent, to reconnect efforts to celebrate how far we have come, identify common objectives and plan strategies toward unmet transportation needs to broaden the effort toward a higher standard of living for, especially those who ride the bus.
Happy Birthday Rosa
Rebuilding Another Golden Age of Classical African Civilization
Today, Kwanzaa is celebrated globally andnearly 1 billion people of African descent, manywho recall well the Golden Age of Classical African Civilizations, take great pride inpreparing for equity and equal opportunityfor people of African descent.
Global Black Farmers celebrate our bountiful harvest in 2010 and prepare for the 45th season of Kwanzaa in collaboration with the United Nations, International Year of People of African Descent and global business partnerships.
May 15, 1862 President Lincoln and Congress established the United States Department of Agriculture, then the Homestead Act, and the Morrill Act to secure an elevated stature of Agriculture production throughout America.
President Lincoln thenprepared to free enslaved people of African descent as a tactical civil war measure designed to pressure the Confederate Army to operate without enslaved human beings with a September 1862 warning.
Beginning in1492 and the European military and religious conquest of the New World, began anindustrial agriculture and economic commerce throughout the Western Hemisphere that relied upon the lifetime productive utility ofenslaved African human beings, the orginal stock of economic capitalism traded in a futures market.
For several centuries, European values and beliefs destroyed the cultural aspirations on an entire continent while dislocating authentic cultures throughout the America's and the Caribbean Basin.
2011 may begin toquantify and qualify theofficial record, especially in theUnited States of America, the land of freedom through the "Voice of America" the 112th Congress.
January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed an Executive Order, called the Emancipation Proclamation, an effective Civil War measure designed to pressure the Confederate Army to end hostilities.
Legal slavery remained in the Union states until after the ratificationof the 13th amendment December 18, 1865 and the slow, painful challenge of ending mental, physical, economic, emotional and spiritual enslavement continues today.
In the Central Valley of California, The Greatest Garden in the World early Black California pioneers hosted one of the first parades in the United States that celebrated the Emancipation Proclamation beginning January 1, 1863 continues on the final day of Kwanzaa, and begins the United Nations, International Year of People of African Descent.
Saturday, January 1, 2011,hosted bythe Stockton Black Leadership Council, led by Dr. Ralph White, continues the historic tradition on the last day of Kwanzaa, building upon the official recognition by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama of our 7-day Kwanzaa holiday celebration and the formal proclamation about slavery and human trafficking prevention.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moons remarks on the establishment of the International Year for People of African Descent, launched at United Nations Headquarters, proclaimed recently by the General Assembly, seeks to strengthen political commitment to eradicating discrimination against people of African descent and aims to promote greater awareness of and respect for the diverse heritage and culture of people of African descent.
Kwanzaa and the United Nations share a unique California Grown origin and fate to establish universal principles thathelp nurture the forward flow of humanity for the world.
We call upon our global partners along with the United States Department of Agriculture to help us prepare for our 45th Season of Kwanzaa, the International Year of People of African Descent.
In the spirit of Kujichagulia, self-determination, we are humbled and prepared to fulfill our unique role and responsibility of good stewardship in the #1 Agriculture state in our great nation.
Shirley Sherrod and U.S. Secretary Tom Vilsackshare a heart felt moment working towardspositive resolution tolong standing and ongoing challenges at
SEC. 201. APPROPRIATION OF FUNDS FOR FINAL SETTLEMENT OF CLAIMS FROM BLACK FARMERS DISCRIMINATION LITIGATION
SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT.The term Settlement Agreement means the settlement agreement dated February 18, 2010 (including any modifications agreed to by the parties and approved by the court under that agreement) between certain plaintiffs, by and through their counsel, and the Secretary of Agriculture to resolve, fully and forever, the claims raised or that could have been raised in the cases consolidated in
In re Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation, Misc. No. 08mc05118 (PLF), including Pigford claims asserted under section 14012 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Public Law 110246; 122 Stat. 2209).
PIGFORD CLAIM.The term Pigford claim has the meaning given that term in section 14012(a)(3) of the Food, Conservation, and Energy 14 Act of 2008 (Public Law 110246; 122 Stat. 2210).
APPROPRIATION OF FUNDS.There is appropriated to the Secretary of Agriculture $1,150,000,000, to remain available until expended, to carry out the terms of the Settlement Agreement if the Settlement Agreement is approved by a court order that is or becomes final and nonappealable, and the court finds that the Settlement Agreement is modified to incorporate the additional terms.
The funds appropriated by this subsection are in addition to the $100,000,000 of funds of the Commodity Credit Corporation made available by section 14012(i) of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Public Law 110246; 122 Stat. 2 2212) and shall be available for obligation only after those Commodity Credit Corporation funds are fully obligated.
If the Settlement Agreement is not approved as provided in this subsection, the $100,000,000 of funds of the Commodity Credit Corporation made available by section 14012(i) of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 8 2008 shall be the sole funding available for Pigford claims.
USE OF FUNDS.The use of the funds appropriated by subsection (b) shall be subject to the express terms of the Settlement Agreement.
TREATMENT OF REMAINING FUNDS.If any of the funds appropriated by subsection are not obligated and expended to carry out the Settlement Agreement, the Secretary of Agriculture shall return the unused funds to the Treasury and may not make the unused funds available for any purpose related to section 14012 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, for any other settlement agreement executed in In re Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation, No. 08511 (D.D.C.), or for any other purpose.
RULES OF CONSTRUCTION.Nothing in this section shall be construed as requiring the United States, any of its officers or agencies, or any other party to enter into the Settlement Agreement or any other settlement agreement. Nothing in this section shall be construed as creating the basis for a Pigford claim.
CONFORMING AMENDMENTS.Section 14012 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Public Law 110246; 122 Stat. 2209) is amended
ADDITIONAL SETTLEMENT TERMS.For the purposes of this section and funding for the Settlement Agreement, the following are additional terms:
DEFINITIONS.In this subsection:
SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT.The term Settlement Agreement means the settlement, including any modifications agreed to by the parties and approved by the court, between the Secretary of Agriculture and certain plaintiffs, by and through their counsel in litigation titled Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation.
IN GENERAL.The term Neutral Adjudicator means a Track A Neutral or a Track B Neutral as those terms are defined in the Settlement Agreement, who have been hired by Lead Class Counsel as that term is defined in the Settlement Agreement.
REQUIREMENT.The Track A and B Neutrals called for in the Settlement Agreement shall be approved by the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, the Attorney General, and the court.
OATH.Every Neutral Adjudicator shall take an oath administered by the court prior to hearing claims.
ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTATION OR EVIDENCE.Any Neutral Adjudicator may, during the course of hearing claims, require claimants to provide additional documentation and evidence if, in the Neutral Adjudicators judgment, the additional documentation and evidence would be necessary or helpful in deciding the merits of the claim, or if the adjudicator suspects fraud regarding the claim.
ATTORNEYS FEES, EXPENSES, AND COSTS.
IN GENERAL.Subject to subparagraph (B) and the provisions of the Settlement Agreement regarding attorneys fee caps and maximum and minimum percentages for awards of attorneys fees, the court shall make any determination as to the amount of attorneys fees, expenses, and costs in accordance with controlling law, including, with respect to attorneys fees, expenses, and costs, any applicable rule of law requiring counsel to produce contemporaneous time, expenses, and cost records in support of a motion for such fees, expenses, and costs.
EFFECT ON AGREEMENT.Nothing in this paragraph limits or otherwise affects the enforceability of provisions regarding attorneys fees, expenses, and costs that may be contained in the Settlement Agreement.
CERTIFICATION.An attorney filing a claim on behalf of a claimant shall swear, under penalty of perjury, that: to the best of the attorneys knowledge, information, and belief formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances, the claim is supported by existing law and the factual contentions have evidentiary support.
DISTRIBUTION OF CLAIMS DETERMINATIONS AND SETTLEMENT FUNDS.In order to ensure full transparency of the administration of claims under the Settlement Agreement, the Claims Administrator as that term is defined in the Settlement Agreement, shall provide to the Secretary of Agriculture, the Inspector General of the Department of Agriculture, the Attorney General, and Lead Class Counsel as that term is defined in the Settlement Agreement, all information regarding Distribution of Claims Determinations and Settlement Funds described in the Settlement Agreement.
REPORTS. GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE.
The Comptroller General of the United States shall evaluate the internal controls (including internal controls concerning fraud and abuse) created to carry out the terms of the Settlement Agreement, and report to the Congress at least 2 times throughout the duration of the claims adjudication process on the results of this evaluation.
ACCESS TO INFORMATION.Solely for purposes of conducting the evaluation under subparagraph (A), the Comptroller General shall have access, upon request, to the claims administrator, the claims adjudicators, and related officials, appointed in connection with the aforementioned settlement, and to any information and records generated, used, or received by them, including names and addresses.
USDA INSPECTOR GENERAL.
PERFORMANCE AUDIT.The Inspector General of the Department of Agriculture shall, within 180 days of the initial adjudication of claims, and subsequently as appropriate, perform a performance audit based on a statistical sampling of adjudicated claims.
AUDIT RECIPIENTS.The audits described in clause (i) shall be provided to Secretary of Agriculture and the Attorney General.