BILL NOW MOVES TO WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA’S SIGNATURE TO HELP BRING JUSTICE TO AFRICAN AMERICAN FARMERS
WASHINGTON, DC – December 2, 2010 /The Black Report/– The NAACP commends Congress for passing a bill that will appropriate $1.25 billion to fund a settlement for African-American farmers who suffered discrimination at the hands of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for decades. The appropriation also pays a settlement for Native Americans land abuse and mismanagement by the U.S. Government.
“The NAACP has been working along with African American farmers to settle the Pigford II case for years, and the February decision cleared any doubt that they deserve compensation for their very legitimate racial discrimination claims,” said NAACP President & CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “I am glad to see that with this case and the Cobell Native American land settlement, Congress is moving forward on addressing past injustices.”
The ‘Pigford II’ class action lawsuit was settled in February 2009, but efforts to fund the claims, which include cash damage awards and debt relief, had twice stalled in the Senate after passing the House of Representatives. Nearly 70,000 African American farmers are affected by this decision.
“Many of the farmers who qualify for the resources under this settlement have waited as long as ten years since the 1st Pigford settlement to be compensated; all too many have already died or lost their farms,” said NAACP Washington Bureau Director and Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy, Hilary O. Shelton. “Now that the House has acted, these claims can begin to be paid-out and African American farmers that withstood, in many cases generations of raced based discrimination, can now begin receiving the long overdue assistance promised by the federal government. We are thrilled that this final legislative hurdle has been passed, and strongly encouraged by President Obama’s long stated commitment to sign this bill into law immediately.”
The Senate vote also included $1.41 billion in funding for the Cobell settlement, an agreement between the U.S. Department of the Interior and Native American Indians over centuries of land abuse and mismanagement by the U.S. Government. This funding had also been heretofore stalled in the Senate.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.