Black Farmers and Legacy Foods as Community Wealth
Since the Civil War, African American agrarians have been constrained by various power structures. Following emancipation, most Black families were sharecroppers or tenant farmers with restricted social, political, and economic mobility. Nonetheless, in 1910, 920,000 Black families managed to own or partly own 12 million acres of farmland and farm over 16 million acres. How did these families, who 50 years prior were enslaved, develop these farming communities?
In this talk, presented on April 8th by Dr. Gail Myers explored the key factors for the growth and endurance of Black farming communities, including rural connectedness, maintenance of agrarian traditions, and the planting of legacy foods such as okra, purple hull peas, butterbeans, sweet potatoes, and greens. Despite facing tremendous barriers, Black farmers created legacies of wealth through food, community support, and mutual accountability.
Gail Myers, Ph.D., is a cultural anthropologist with a doctorate from Ohio State University. In 2004, Dr. Myers cofounded Farms to Grow, Inc. in Oakland, CA to work in partnership with African American farmers and ranchers and other under-resourced producers. In her many roles, Dr. Myers advocates for, researches and writes about African American Farming. She is passionate about the legacy of Black farmers, Black agrarian material culture, and racial justice. In 2018, Dr. Myers received the Advocate for Social Justice Award “Justie” from the Eco-Farm Association. She is currently finishing a documentary/multi-media project, “Rhythms of the Land,” www.rhythmsoftheland.com, which will be screened in 2022.
Watch the full video below