What is in this article?:
- John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, spearheaded the settlement of Pigford v. Glickman.
- Boyd has been pushing Congress and the White House to finalize the deal.
- Boyd discusses the politics of funding the settlement.
- He believes action is needed before the end of September.
Staying course wise action?
I want to ask about the March 31 deadline that was missed. In the settlement there was a contingency that if the funding hadn’t been (secured) by that time, you could pull out of the agreement. I’m wondering if, in hindsight, you wish you’d pulled out or if staying the course was the wisest choice?
“I hope eventually everyone will live up to their commitments in the settlement agreement. If they don’t it’ll be more of how history has treated black farmers — 40 acres and a mule, share-cropping and slavery. These are bad things that happened in American history.
“We have a chance, right now, to take something that’s very wrong and turn it right. It could be played as a positive with everyone taking part — Republicans and Democrats. And this isn’t a (partisan) issue. It’s a right-and-wrong issue. It’s a known fact that black farmers were treated wrong. We have a chance to fix that.
“I made the decision (to stay in) the settlement agreement — I’ll go on the record with that. I made the decision to take the settlement offer.
“I have a lot on the table, here. That’s another reason I want to sit down and talk to President Obama about this.
“This is a very important issue right in the middle of race relations in this country. This is a perfect issue to talk about race and see what we can do, find our next step in this country to allow everyone to live together and understand each other’s culture. Until that happens we’ll continue to have issues that resurface with race.”
You’ve mentioned a desire to meet with the president several times. Has the White House been amenable to that?
“I’ve had one meeting with the staff — the full staff. But I want to meet with the president. This is an issue that should be at his level.
“The way it looks to us, this doesn’t have a high priority. But the (Obama) administration says it does have a very high priority. Well, if it does, I’d like to sit down with the president and find out his thinking on this issue. Let’s map out a course that’ll be victorious for the black farmers, for the administration, Congress and everyone involved.
“Right now, everyone is looking bad. This is bad, bad. It’s bad what’s happening in the Senate to the black farmers. I don’t care how you look at it, it’s bad when a bill comes to the Senate floor seven times and they still can’t find a way to (fund the settlement) even though everyone is in agreement that the farmers were treated badly and should receive justice. That’s bad.
“It doesn’t make our political system look good with other countries watching what’s transpiring with this issue.”