FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC – September 13, 2021: The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) today released its video, Black Farmers, Land Loss and the Racial Economic Gap, which provides insight into how discriminatory government programs and practices contributed to the racial wealth gap of Black American farmers. The video is the College’s tenth in its monthly informational series – Planning for a Diverse and Equitable Future, a project of ACTEC’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Committee, funded by The ACTEC Foundation.
ACTEC Fellow Terrence M. Franklin interviews author Natalie Baszile regarding her latest book "We Are Each Other's Harvest." Ms. Baszile shares her research into the inequity of intergenerational wealth caused by discrimination and illustrated through the reality of black farmers. She points out the legacy of financial discrimination which has been in place for hundreds of years. The Headright System of colonial days guaranteed 100 acres of land to white Europeans who settled America. In the 1700s, a Virginia Statute required masters to give their white indentured servants 50 acres of land, 30 shillings, 10 bushels of corn, and a musket when they were manumitted, offering them a start at independence. Black indentured servants and black enslaved people were not given the same financial launching pad. These practices continued into the 1900s, as illustrated by FDR’s New Deal and USDA Farm Policies that prevented Black Americans from accessing government programs available to whites.
Ms. Baszile’s research demonstrates how centuries of discriminatory practices and policies have impacted generations of black farmers and how these practices prevented Black Americans from accumulating wealth in the same way as white Americans. She shares the story of a black farming family in Louisiana that is still the victim of discrimination through USDA-backed bank loans and how they are challenging it to gain equal access as Americans. In her research. Ms. Baszile discovered that by 1920 there were about 925,000 black farmers in this country. In 2017, there were less than 45,000 black farmers, demonstrating that these policies and practices are still impacting Black American farmers.
“When we really talk about this issue of black land ownership and intergenerational wealth, we really do have to take a step back,” Ms. Baszile noted, “and we have to look at all of the policies and practices that are baked into the American experiment that have everything to do with why white people in this country have had access to land ownership, and black people have not.”
Learn more about this topic by watching the enlightening Black Farmers, Land Loss and the Racial Economic Gap video. For further information about the Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity series, please visit actec.org/diversity.
About The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC): Established in 1949, The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) is a national, nonprofit association of approximately 2,400 lawyers and law professors from throughout the United States and abroad. ACTEC members (Fellows) are peer-elected on the basis of professional reputation and expertise in the preparation of wills and trusts, estate planning, probate, trust administration and related practice areas. The College’s mission includes the improvement and reform of probate, trust and tax laws and procedures and professional practice standards. ACTEC frequently offers technical comments with regard to legislation and regulations but does not take positions on matters of policy or political objectives.
About The ACTEC Foundation: The ACTEC Foundation is the philanthropic arm of The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel or ACTEC. The Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) that offers education to families and professionals and supports students interested in the trust and estate area of the law. Through continued financial support, The ACTEC Foundation offers professional development, scholarships and education for a number of important efforts, including legal education, educational support, public initiatives, legal publications and the student editorial board.
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