THE GREAT AWAKENING

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Bringing Shirley Sherrod’s Past Into the Light....What a Tangled Web She's Woven!!

Bringing Shirley Sherrod’s Past Into the Light



By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton


Shirley Sherrod - Made Infamous from the NAACP Video Controversy and Andrew Breitbart

Over the last 2 weeks I have been doing research into the Shirley Sherrod controversy which you can read about here... More to dig into, especially her affiliations, so stay tuned on that front. I guarantee you have not heard the whole story from the
mainstream media.

Oh, what a tangled web Sherrod has woven for herself. Selectively cherry picking recounts of her so-called civil
rights work in the 60s and 70s. Painting herself as a victim while
smearing Fox News and Glenn Beck, who I might add, oddly enough was the
FIRST one to come to her defense. Definitely would not want her anywhere
behind me in a fight.

Lost in the NAACP controversy and Sherrod's claim to be a 'reformed racist,' is the story of her time at
New Communities Inc. During her time in her role there, it would seem
there are those that claim she held an ostensibly elitist and
anti-black-labor viewpoint. Along with her cohorts at NCI, Sherrod
underpaid, mistreated and fired black laborers, many of which were under
16 years of age. She did so in those very same fields of southwest
Georgia that her ancestors labored under the yoke of slavery.

Ron Wilkins at CounterPunch tells a decidedly different story of Sherrod's
deeds back in the 1970s. He is a former organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
and worked with Sherrod at NCI during that time. According to Wilkins,
Sherrod's history is rife with abuse towards black laborers and underage
workers. From CounterPunch:
If confession is good for the soul, then Mrs. Sherrod took a first step toward her redemption by admitting the error of her ways in her earlier
attitudes toward poor white farmers. Mrs. Sherrod says she began to see
poverty as more central than race. So, should indigent black child farm
laborers warrant less reflection by Mrs. Sherrod? What lessons does she
have to share from her tenure as management when she had power over her
own people working under deplorable conditions at the same New
Communities
Inc.(NCI) identified in the current issue? Shirley Sherrod could have included this chapter of her history in the same
confession speech. Justice and integrity require at least as much
accountability from Mrs. Sherrod to the poor black farm workers of NCI
as to the white farmers she came to befriend. This lack of full
disclosure of the whole truth is a “sin of omission” that trivializes
the suffering of poor black farm workers and exacerbates the offenses of
NCI.

Shirley Sherrod was New Communities Inc.'s store manager during the 1970s. As such, Mrs. Sherrod was a key member of the NCI
administrative team, which exploited and abused the workforce in the
field. The 6,000 acre New Communities Inc. in Lee County promoted itself
during the latter part of the 1960s and throughout the 70s as a land
trust committed to improving the lives of the rural black poor.
Underneath this facade, the young and old worked long hours with few
breaks, the pay averaged sixty-seven cents an hour, fieldwork behind
equipment spraying pesticides was commonplace and workers expressing
dissatisfaction were fired without recourse.

Eventually, loan discrimination and relentless creditors did take down New Communities Inc. in 1985. But NCI's, and Sherrod's, unfair labor
practices and incompetent leadership were equally, if not more so, to
blame for the company's failure.

Zombie has written a magnificent piece detailing these events. Here is a list from the article at Pajamas Media of items that Wilkins has accused Sherrod of being guilty of - and I believe him:
Combined, the new 2010 allegations and the original 1974 allegations accuse Shirley and Charles Sherrod of:

• Paying farm workers as little as 67¢ per hour, far below minimum wage for the era.
• Employing underage children to perform hard labor.
• Compelling their employees to work in unsafe conditions, including getting sprayed with pesticides.
• Firing any workers who acted as whistleblowers.
• Forcing employees to work overtime in the fields at night with practically no advance notice.
• Having a capricious payscale under which employees doing the exact same jobs were paid different amounts according to the whims of the
managers.
• Being unwilling to address the abuse even after it was raised by union representatives.
• Seriously mismanaging the farm to such an extent that it went bankrupt.

Sherrod cries foul to the government concerning their treatment of black farmers, all the way to the bank I might add. But she never once
addressed the fact that said treatment was undeniably under her
management and by her own hand.

United Farm Workers’ newspaper El Malcriado on September 28, 1974, also weighed in against Sherrod:


All of this while accusing Andrew Breitbart of wanting Blacks to get “stuck back in the times of slavery.” He only showed excerpts that were given him and I contend that Sherrod is still a
racist despite the lipstick she has slapped on Pigford.

The Sherrods' New Communities farm received $13 million from the USDA to
compensate for the loss of their land as part of the “Pigford v.
Glickman” settlement. Shirley and Charles Sherrod personally received
$300,000 for “pain and suffering.” Now Pigford II is in the works to rip
off America even more.

Much, much more can be found in Zombie's Piece: Slave-labor conditions at Sherrods’ farm?

Shirley, you've really done your family proud by promoting slavery of your
fellow African Americans while displaying traitorous elitism and
monstrous graft. Well done...


Cross posted from NoisyRoom and http://newzeal.blogspot.com/


More Info on the case

Pigford v. Glickman: 86,000 claims from 39,697 total farmers?

 

I’m confused.

If there are only 39,697 African-American farmers grand total in the entire country, then how can over 86,000 of them claim discrimination at the hands of the USDA? Where did the other 46,303 come
from?

Now, if you’re confused over what the heck I’m even talking about, let’s go back to the beginning of the story:

Pigford v. Glickman

In 1997, 400 African-American farmers sued the United States Department of Agriculture, alleging that they had been unfairly denied USDA loans due to racial discrimination during the period 1983 to 1997.
The farmers won the case, known as Pigford v. Glickman,
and in 1999 the government agreed to pay $50,000 each to any farmer who
had been wrongly denied an agricultural loan. By then it had grown into
a class action case, and any black farmer who had filed a
complaint between 1983 and 1997 would be given at least $50,000 — not
limited to the original 400 plaintiffs. It was estimated at that time
that there might be as many as 2,000 beneficiaries granted $50,000 each.

According to the summary of the case linked above,

Originally, claimants were to have filed within 180 days of the consent decree. Late claims were accepted for an additional year afterwards, if they
could show extraordinary circumstances that prevented them from filing
on time.

Far beyond the anticipated 2,000 affected farmers, 22,505 “Track A” applications were heard and decided upon, of which 13,348 (59%) were approved. US$995 million had been disbursed or credited to the “Track A” applicants as of January 2009, including US$760 million disbursed as
US$50,000 cash awards…. Beyond those applications that were heard and
decided upon, about 70,000 petitions were filed late and were not allowed to proceed.
Some have argued that the notice program was defective, and others
blamed the farmers’ attorneys for “the inadequate notice and overall
mismanagement of the settlement agreement”. A provision in the 2008 farm
bill essentially allowed a re-hearing in civil court for any claimant
whose claim had been denied without a decision that had been based on
its merits.

Then on February 23 of this year, the USDA finally consented to pay $1.25 billion to those farmers whose claims had ea...:

In the 1999 case Pigford v. Glickman, the USDA agreed to pay 16,000 black farmers $1 billion after a judge held the federal government responsible
for the decline in black farmers. Critics argued that more than 70,000
farmers were shut out of the lawsuit. In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama
and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley got a law passed to reopen the case,
and the settlement talks moved forward.

The $1.25 billion settlement, announced Thursday, comes on top of the money paid out a decade ago. The new agreement would provide cash payments and debt relief to farmers who applied too late to participate
in the earlier settlement, The Washington Post reported. Authorities say
they are not certain how many farmers might apply this time, but
analysts say the number could be higher than 70,000.

Seventy-thousand+ applicants in addition to the 16,000 already compensated now means that over 86,000 people are slated to be paid.

The U.S. Senate and Shirley Sherrod

Which brings us up to today, when two current events suddenly thrust this otherwise little-known case into the spotlight. First, the Senate stripped funding for the settlement out of an unrelated ..., as they had done several times in the past. Second, it was revealed today that “A farm collective founded by Shirley Sherrod and her husband that was forced out of business by the discriminatory practices received a $13 million settlement as part of Pigford last year, just before she was hired by the USDA.”

Suddenly, everyone in America is talking about a class-action suit that until a few hours ago very few had ever heard of.

But I want to go back to the beginning.

Forget about Shirley Sherrod’s connection. Forget about the Senate not funding the settlement. There will be plenty of pundits commenting on those aspects over the upcoming days.

What I want to know is: How can there be 86,000 legitimate claimants?

The Census pinpoints the precise number of African-American farmers

I ask this question because it didn’t take me very long to find the latest census statistics released by the Department of Agriculture, which can be found linked to from this official USDA page. There, you will find this direct link to a text version of the Census report, and this recommended pdf version.

In the pdf version of the government’s official 2007 Agricultural Census, Table 53 on page 646 shows that there are exactly 39,697 African-American farmers grand total in the entire nation:

(A scan through earlier census reports shows that this number has remained fairly constant over time, which is to be expected, as farming tends to be a long-term lifestyle rather than a “job” that one gets and
then quickly abandons.)

Granted: the original case was valid. But has it spun out of control?

Let’s accept as a point of fact that some African-American farmers were unfairly denied loans by racists in the USDA during the Clinton and Reagan administrations. I’m not casting any aspersions on the validity
of the original lawsuit, nor on the courts’ rulings in the case.

But ponder the numbers.

• There are approximately 40,000 African-American farmers in the country.

• Of that 40,000, not all of them have gotten into financial trouble. Some have successful farms.

• Of those who had financial trouble, not all of them sought out loans. Some tried to stay afloat on their own.

• Of those who sought out loans, not all of them sought out loans from the USDA. Some got loans from banks or friends.

• Of those who sought out loans from the USDA, not all of them were denied loans. Some got the loans as requested.

• Of those who were denied loans, not all of them were denied due to discriminatory racial practices.

In the end, a total much much smaller than 40,000 could legitimately claim to be victims of discrimination.

As shown above, it was originally estimated to be no more than 2,000 possible total plaintiffs.

Somehow, that number quickly swelled to 16,000 wronged claimants.

And now, as of February, the government has announced its plans to hand out at least $50,000 each to over 70,000 more claimants, over and above the original 16,000.

This means that the U.S. may be recompensing at least 86,000 African-American farmers for past racial discrimination. But how could that possibly be true if there are only 39,697 African-American farmers
in existence nationwide? And if only some subset of them ever applied
for loans in the first place and were then unfairly denied loans?

If someone can explain this to me, I’ll add it in an update to this post. Could it be that there is a constant turnover of African-Americans trying out farming for a few years, and then quickly giving it up, so
that although there may be only 40,000 farmers at any one time,
over the years, the total number of different people involved in
farming is much larger? If so, is there any evidence for this? Or could
there be another explanation?

I have a feeling that the Senate repeatedly fails to fund this settlement because there is a strong suspicion among the senators that something is amiss with the case — that a substantial percentage of the
70,000 claims that were originally rejected must necessarily have been
fraudulent claims. And so there is reluctance to fork over the money.
But there also seems to be a reluctance on the part of the Senate to
admit why they won’t fund the settlement, because the issue is just too racially charged.

It is a tragedy that victims of institutional discrimination like the legitimately wronged African-American farmers could be denied their payout due to scammers trying to undeservedly grab a piece of the pie.
Instead of getting angry at the Senate for hesitating with the funds, we
should be angry at the swindlers (and their lawyers) who contaminated
an otherwise valid case.

Unless, of course, there is a clear explanation of where those 86,000 farmers came from. Any ideas?

UPDATE I:

Another Department of Agriculture census report details the total number of African-American farmers in 1992, during the exact time covered by the Pigford v. Glickman lawsuit — and it reveals that there
were far fewer back then than there were in 2007. According to the chart on page 20 of the USDA’s pdf 1998 “Status Report, Minority & Women Farmers In..., there were only 18,816 black farmers in 1992:


(Thanks to reader “Dane” for noticing this.)

If this is true (and it seems to be), then the disparity between the available total number of black farmers in the U.S. and the number of claimants in Pigford v. Glickman is even far greater than I originally
calculated.

UPDATE II:

This official USDA census report, in Appendix 3 on page 24 of the pdf, gives even more statistics for 1987, 1992, and 1997 — every single agricultural census year during the
period covered by the lawsuit. Turns out that the number of black
farmers in every year was consistently very small:

Total number of African-American farmers in the United States, by year:

1987: 22,954
1992: 18,816
1997: 18,451

Even if there was a 100% turnover, and every single farmer went out of business every five years and was replaced by a new farmer (extremely unlikely), there still wouldn’t be enough black farmers throughout the entire period combined to account for the number of claimants.

It seems, no matter how you look at it, that a substantial number of the 86,000 claims must necessarily be fraudulent.

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