Volume 3, Number 10                                                                                                                                                 June 20, 2000

The Farmer


“Black Congressman put on notice”

by Dr. Ridgely A. Mu’min Muhammad

Washington, D.C.--On the eve of another protest demonstration on behalf of the Black farmers slated for June 19th in Washington, DC, Georgia farmers in Congressional District 2 appealed to the national Black Farmers and Agriculturist Association (BFAA) to support their efforts to unseat Dem. Rep. Sanford Bishop. Eddie Slaughter said: ”On May 8, 2000 our representative, Sanford Bishop, voted against House Resolution 296 that would support expediting paying the Black farmers in Pigford Vs Glickman lawsuit If Mr. Bishop can not support us, then we can no longer support him in his re-election campaign. In fact, we will be working actively to get him unseated this November unless he can show us some real action in favor of Black farmers.” Mr. Morris James, also in Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District added: “ There are other issues that Mr. Bishop has disappointed his Black constituents on. Such matters as the lack of enthusiasm in the investigation of unexplained deaths of Black men in jails within his district and not responding to the elderly’s pleas for assistance with maintaining and improving their social security benefits.” President Gary Grant speaking on behalf of the National BFAA stated, “Support would be given to help assist in voter registration and education on the issues. We have representatives here from most of the BFAA chapters and they have also told similar stories of disappointment with their Black congressional representatives on issues that concern them in their states. Therefore it is time that Black elected officials understand the time for taking Black peoples’ votes for granted is gone. We will use the telephone, letters and emails to our ‘downline’ to get the word out and start the ball rolling.” Eddie Slaughter further added, “We told Al Gore in May of 1998 if they could not pay Black farmers by the year 2000, then he can not be president in 2000. So far we ain’t got paid.” The next day at the rally Black farmers representing 12 states thanked J.C. Watts and Jay Dickey for putting forward the legislation and praised them for their promise to re-submit the bill, H.Con.Res. 296 for another vote. “America’s Black farmers deserve our united support,” Watts said. “We must reject those who attempt to play politics with their plight for purely political gain.” Watts also noted congressional help for Black farmers, including measures such as his Black Farmer Fairness Act (H.R. 2233), had been bipartican until now. At the rally Dr. Ridgely Muhammad explained the significance of the cut out poster of a gun that he was carrying, “Which party should Black people chose, Republicans or Democrates? The ones with the gun in your face or the ones with the gun at your back?” “You all need to stop playing politics with these people’s lives”, he added. Gary Grant, president of BFAA, stated that “There is so much emphasis put on the “rule of law” in the controversial Elian Gonzales case. Janet Reno and the U.S. government claim to base all of their actions in the infamous case on “following the rule of law.” But when it comes to Black family farmers, rules of law are being broken all the time, and all rules of human and legal ethics, and of common sense are ignored.” Members of BFAA are asking that Al Pires, the lead attorney in their suit against the USDA, be dismissed from the case. Those and other demands will be presented to Judge Paul Friedman at a fairness hearing to be held at Federal District Court in DC on July 31, 2000. Commentary: It seems that the 38 members of the Congressional Black Caucus were proving their loyalty to the Democratic party by shooting down legislation that would help Black farmers just because it was introduced by Republicans. Why is it that before one can get the support of whites, this time those who hold the purse strings of the Democratic Party campaign machine, one must show that he or she can sacrifice members of their own race. Now that H.R. Bill 296 has been defeated, can the Congressional Black Caucus be allowed to help the Black farmers? “Massa please let them go?” For information about attending the fairness hearing to voice your complaints concerning the Consent Decree contact Gary Grant at (252)826-2800 or email Tillery@aol.com.


Photo: left to right: Rep. Jay Dickey, Gary Grant, Rep. J.C. Watts