Most data on how police communicate with citizens come from eyewitness accounts—from drivers, outside observers, and officers themselves. The new work sought to get around that subjectivity by using audio recordings. “It’s taking it from the realm of what any two of us might discuss over drinks at a bar to using the tools of modern science to get a more precise picture,” says John Rickford, a linguist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who was not involved in the work.
Stanford researchers started with body cam footage from every encounter Oakland police had with black and white drivers in April 2014. They transcribed what officers said at 981 traffic stops to come up with 36,738 usable “utterances,” or conversational turns. Next, they had college students read and rate about 400 utterances for how much respect they showed, taking into account what drivers said just before officers spoke. The students, who had no knowledge of the driver’s race, rated speech toward black drivers as less respectful than speech toward white drivers overall.
“The differences are subtle,” says Jennifer Eberhardt, a social psychologist at Stanford and an author of the study. The language officers used with blacks was not “really disrespectful,” she says. It was just less respectful. One example on the low end: “All right, my man. Do me a favor. Just keep your hands on the steering wheel real quick.” On the high end: “There you go, ma’am. Drive safe, please.”
Eberhardt and her team then used software to rate the full set of 36,738 utterances. Even after controlling for driver age and gender; officer race; the crime rate and business density of the neighborhood; whether the stop resulted in a search, warning, citation, or arrest; and the severity of the offense (if there was one), more respectful language was used with white drivers than with black drivers, they report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Further, the analysis revealed that a white driver is about 60% more likely than a black driver to hear something from the top 10% most respectful utterances, whereas a black driver is about 60% more likely to hear something from the bottom 10%.
Those discrepancies can’t be fully blamed on a small number of officers, as they were seen in the majority of officers. Nor could they be attributed to the behavior of the drivers, as ratings showed discrepancies even accounting for what the driver had just said, and discrepancies appeared even in the first moments of an interaction. What’s more, given an equal number of utterances toward black and white drivers, researchers could train a computer to detect the race of the recipient with 68% accuracy.
Perhaps surprisingly, even black officers were seen as less respectful toward black drivers. “I think once they put on that uniform, there’s this pressure to be a cop and follow the norms,” Rickford says. But even if none of the results comes as a surprise, “what makes it such a phenomenal study is the methodology,” says James Pennebaker, a social psychologist at the University of Texas in Austin, who reviewed the paper. He says that some people could come to similar conclusions based on the history of police violence—blacks shot and killed by officers are more likely to be unarmed than whites shot and killed by officers—but this study starts “at the beginning of the interaction.”
Pennebaker and others say the study could improve officer training. In a few years, for example, officers might receive an automated score after each stop, along with pointers on different language they could consider using. A body cam that nags about politeness might not be well received, but given that respect is often reciprocated, such a device could be a life saver.
To read more Click or Copy: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/06/body-cams-reveal-us-police-use-less-respectful-language-black-drivers
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By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
By: Lucius Gantt
African Americans can’t wait to get to the polls to cast their ballots in the 2016 United States elections.
One Presidential candidate is “Heckle” and the other one is “Jeckle”. One candidate is Tweedlee Dee” and The other one is “Tweedlee Dum”.
It doesn’t matter who is running for the nation’s highest office, most Black voters will do as they are told. They will be given a list, or slate, and instructed to vote for candidates that political exploiters want them to vote for!
Call me a hater if you want to but if you hate the truth I don’t give a damn!
First of all, you have a Constitutional right to vote for whomever you want to and, yes, you should exercise that right but I pray that you will vote smart.
I pray that you will put your voter support behind candidates that support you., stand up for you, speak out for you, be accessible to you, listen to you, be responsive to you and care about you!
And, don’t give me any crap about voting for the “Black” candidates!
Most Black politicians today are completely worthless and of no use to Black people.
You tell me, who are the candidates that look like you that will fight for the governmental policies and programs that you want? When Congress persons, legislators, commissioners and councilmen vote to appropriate, or divide up, tax dollars to special interest groups, corporate cronies, favored ethnic groups, desired sex and gender groups, who are the Black elect officials that will say “there are more Black people that are suffering, and more Black communities struggling than anybody else why does government give Black people, Black businesses and Black schools and other Black institutions the least government money”?know you don’t like for me to write like this but it is true!
You think you are going to the polls to vote strong Black men and women but, in many cases, you stepping into the voting booth to cast ballots for dummies and puppets!
You’re not voting for the best representation that we can get, you are voting for Negroes who are willing to be controlled by the Democratic or Republican Parties!
The Democratic Party, for instance, is Willie Tyler and you are voting for Lester. The Republican Party is Buffalo Bob and you’re voting for Howdy Doody!
You think The Gantt Report is crazy? Prove it!
Who is running for office in 2016 that will represent you today like Black people were represented in the past by Adam Clayton Powell, or Maynard Jackson, or Shirley Chisholm or Harold Washington or even Florida’s Carrie Meeks or Betty Holzendorf?
I knew Meeks and Holzendorf and the candidates of today are not them.
I’ve written it a thousand times but if you forgot it, let me repeat it. If Black political candidates believe that Black business are inferior, Black people are unimportant, Black issues are OK to ignore during the political campaign, they will feel the same way after you elect them!
A Black guy running for a seat in the Florida Legislature called me and asked me to give him some money for his campaign. I asked him to name the Black vendors, political professionals and Black owned media outlets he would spend money with and he told me ALL Black people working on his campaign would be volunteers so he could save his money for white media, white consultants and white vendors.
I hung up the phone on his pitiful ass!
Any Black voter or Black citizen that would give their support to any candidate, Black or white, that thinks all Blacks are worthless is not only a political fool they are a traitor to their race!
Black people have to control the politics in Black communities, Black districts and in Black precincts.
When political parties control Black candidates and tell them what to do, what to say, what to vote for and who they should hire, the Black voters and the Black people will continue to be exploited and oppressed.
If you are interested in politics, start grooming our young people. Teach Black youth how to campaign and generate votes. Teach Black boys and girls how to be strong, proud and politically intelligent Black men and women.
The only Black political clown I’ll support is “Homie the Clown” because if Homie ran for office, Homie wouldn’t play that “I want to be controlled” stuff!Post Views: 59
By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
By CLAY RISEN
LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — Every year, about 275,000 people tour the Jack Daniel’s distillery here, and as they stroll through its brick buildings nestled in a tree-shaded hollow, they hear a story like this: Sometime in the 1850s, when Daniel was a boy, he went to work for a preacher, grocer and distiller named Dan Call. The preacher was a busy man, and when he saw promise in young Jack, he taught him how to run his whiskey still — and the rest is history.
This year is the 150th anniversary of Jack Daniel’s, and the distillery, home to one of the world’s best-selling whiskeys, is using the occasion to tell a different, more complicated tale. Daniel, the company now says, didn’t learn distilling from Dan Call, but from a man named Nearis Green — one of Call’s slaves.
This version of the story was never a secret, but it is one that the distillery has only recently begun to embrace, tentatively, in some of its tours, and in a social media and marketing campaign this summer.
“It’s taken something like the anniversary for us to start to talk about ourselves,” said Nelson Eddy, Jack Daniel’s in-house historian.
Frontier history is a gauzy and unreliable pursuit, and Nearis Green’s story — built on oral history and the thinnest of archival trails — may never be definitively proved. Still, the decision to tell it resonates far beyond this small city.
For years, the prevailing history of American whiskey has been framed as a lily-white affair, centered on German and Scots-Irish settlers who distilled their surplus grains into whiskey and sent it to far-off markets, eventually creating a $2.9 billion industry and a product equally beloved by Kentucky colonels and Brooklyn hipsters.
Left out of that account were men like Nearis Green. Slavery and whiskey, far from being two separate strands of Southern history, were inextricably entwined. Enslaved men not only made up the bulk of the distilling labor force, but they often played crucial skilled roles in the whiskey-making process. In the same way that white cookbook authors often appropriated recipes from their black cooks, white distillery owners took credit for the whiskey.
In deciding to talk about Green, Jack Daniel’s may be hoping to get ahead of a collision between the growing popularity of American whiskey among younger drinkers and a heightened awareness of the hidden racial politics behind America’s culinary heritage.
Some also see the move as a savvy marketing tactic. “When you look at the history of Jack Daniel’s, it’s gotten glossier over the years,” said Peter Krass, the author of “Blood and Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel.” “In the 1980s, they aimed at yuppies. I could see them taking it to the next level, to millennials, who dig social justice issues.”
Jack Daniel’s says it simply wants to set the record straight. The Green story has been known to historians and locals for decades, even as the distillery officially ignored it.
According to a 1967 biography, “Jack Daniel’s Legacy,” by Ben A. Green (no relation to Nearis), Call told his slave to teach Daniel everything he knew. “Uncle Nearest is the best whiskey maker that I know of,” the book quotes Call as saying.
Slavery ended with ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865, and Daniel opened his distillery a year later, employing two of Green’s sons. In a photo of Daniel and his workers taken in the late 19th century, a black man, possibly one of Green’s sons, sits at his immediate right — a sharp contrast to contemporaneous photos from other distilleries, where black employees were made to stand in the back rows.
But corporate history-keeping was a rare practice in those days, and over time memories of Green and his sons faded.
“I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision” to leave the Greens out of the company’s story, said Phil Epps, the global brand director for Jack Daniel’s at Brown-Forman, which has owned the distillery for 60 years. Still, it is unlikely that anyone in the Jim Crow South thought a whiskey marketed to whites should emphasize its black roots.
As the brand’s anniversary approached, the company started researching its various origin stories. It decided that the case for Nearis Green’s contribution was persuasive, and should be told. “As we dug into it, we realized it was something that we could be proud of,” Mr. Epps said.
A business built on slave help may not seem like a selling point, which may explain why Jack Daniel’s is taking things slowly. The Green story is an optional part of the distillery tour, left to the tour guide’s discretion, and the company is still considering whether it will flesh out the story in new displays at its visitors center.
However far the distillery decides to go, it is placing itself at the center of a larger issue that distillers and whiskey historians have begun to grapple with only in the last few years: the deep ties between slavery and whiskey.
“It’s about paying down the debts of pleasure that have accrued over time,” said John T. Edge, the director of the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi.
An exhibit on George Washington and slavery opening this fall at the first president’s Northern Virginia home, Mount Vernon, documents how he relied on six slaves (and two Scottish foremen) to run his rye whiskey distillery, one of the largest on the East Coast.
“They were key to the operation in making whiskey,” said Steve Bashore, who helps run a working replica of Washington’s distillery. “In the ledgers, the slaves are actually listed as distillers.”
Slavery accompanied distilling as it moved inland in the late 18th century, to the newly settled regions that would become Tennessee and Kentucky. Though slave owning was nowhere near as common there as it was farther south, by the 1800s many successful farmers had at least a few slaves, who tended to be closely involved with whiskey production.
Some of the earliest prominent Kentucky distillers, like Elijah Craig, Henry McKenna and Jacob Spears, relied on slaves to run their operations. (Craig and McKenna’s names are now on whiskeys made by Heaven Hill Brands, but those were created long after slavery was abolished.)
Washington wasn’t the only president to use slaves in his distillery. In an 1805 advertisement, Andrew Jackson offered a bounty for a runaway slave named George, whom he identified as “a good distiller.”
Databases of ads for slave sales, as well as runaway slaves, are full of references to slaves as skilled whiskey distillers. In 1794, a Richmond, Va., man placed a $20 bounty on a slave named Will, who “has a large scar on his right side just below his ribs” and “understands making of whiskey.”
Slaves did more than just provide physical labor. If Green taught Daniel to distill, said Michael Twitty, a food historian, he probably would have drawn on generations of liquor-making skills: American slaves had their own traditions of alcohol production, going back to the corn beer and fruit spirits of West Africa, and many Africans made alcohol illicitly while in slavery.
“There’s something to be said for the fact that Africans and Europeans were both people in the Southeast who carried with them ancient traditions for making alcohol,” Mr. Twitty said.
Another aspect of the Jack Daniel’s tradition that is being reassessed is the so-called Lincoln County process, in which unaged whiskey is passed through several feet of maple charcoal, which removes impurities and imparts a slight sweetness.
According to legend, the process was invented in 1825 by a white Tennessean named Alfred Eaton. But Mr. Eddy, the Jack Daniel’s historian, and others now say it’s just as likely that the practice evolved from slave distilling traditions, in which charcoal helped remove some of the sting from illicitly made alcohol.
Other contributions are even harder to pin down. Though slave owners tended to value their slaves’ distilling prowess, they rarely documented how the slaves made such fine spirits.
Evidence often has to be found outside the archives. Recent archaeological work in Kentucky has uncovered material pointing to slave distilling at a number of sites, including the famed Pepper distillery near Frankfort and another operation owned by Jack Jouett, a Revolutionary War hero.
“It’s like looking at slave distillers out of the corner of your eye,” said Nicolas Laracuente, an archaeologist who has worked extensively at the site of Jouett’s house. “The reason we’re not finding them in the archives is that they didn’t have the right to be recognized.”
Mike Veach, a whiskey historian, said the influence of enslaved African distillers may explain a mystery in the development of American whiskey. Traces of German, Scots-Irish and English distilling traditions are evident in the American style, but there’s much that can’t be traced to an earlier source — a gap that slave traditions might fill.
“I don’t know what role slaves would have played,” Mr. Veach said, “but I’m sure it was there.”
Fred Minnick, the author of “Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker,” said it’s doubtful that a full accounting of enslaved people’s contribution to American whiskey will ever be written. “It’s extremely sad that these slave distillers will never get the credit they deserve,” he said. “We likely won’t ever even know their names.”
Despite the recent attention from Jack Daniel’s, Nearis Green’s name is just a faint echo, even among several of his descendants who live in the area. Claude Eady, 91, who worked for the distillery from 1946 to 1989, said he was related to Green “on my mother’s side,” but didn’t know much about him.
“I heard his name around,” he said. “The only thing I knew was that he helped Jack Daniel make whiskey.”Post Views: 64
By Elliot Booker — 2 years ago
Along Allen Road, though, an older version of Hilton Head is preserved. The short street bisects a 38-acre plot and travels past some 23 trailers that house members of the Allen family. Tall oak and pine trees block the sun from flowering shrubs in the sandy soil. The noise from passing cars is drowned out by bird chatter and an occasional shout from one family member to another.
Matthew Allen, now in his 70s, grew up visiting this family land where his father and grandfather grew up. “When [my father] was coming up,” he recalls, “they used to…go down to the water to fish. They used to hunt. [They] used to farm the land, used to grow okra, corn, sweet potatoes. They took full advantage of the land.”
It was Dennis Allen, Matthew’s great-grandfather, who purchased the land on Hilton Head. The son of slaves, Dennis Allen bought his first parcel of nearly 20 acres in 1897, at a time when African Americans were purchasing land across the country. Today, the Allen family owns the largest undeveloped lot on Hilton Head.
But as the land enters its 120th year in the family, the Allens are struggling to hold on to it. Because of ambiguities surrounding the land’s title, there is no primary owner of the property; all of the heirs of the original owners—and there are more than 100 known heirs—are legally co-owners. As such, the land is classified as “heirs’ property,” a designation that makes it vulnerable to being sold without the family’s full consent. As the Allens attempt to overcome a stacked legal system—exacerbated by corrupt lawyers and predatory developers—they are at the center of a decades-long fight to retain black-owned land across the South.
In the 45 years following the Civil War, freed slaves and their descendants accumulated roughly 15 million acres of land across the United States, most of it in the South. Land ownership meant stability and opportunity for black families, a shot at upward mobility and economic security for future generations. The hard-won property was generally used for farming, the primary occupation of most Southern blacks in the early 20th century. By 1920, there were 925,000 black-owned farms, representing about 14 percent of all farms in the United States.
Over the course of the 20th century, however, that number dropped precipitously. Millions of farmers of all races were pushed off their land in the early part of the century, including around 600,000 black farmers. By 1975, just 45,000 black-owned farms remained. “It was almost as if the earth was opening up and swallowing black farmers,” writes scholarPete Daniel in his book Dispossession: Discrimination Against African American Farmers in the Age of Civil Rights. Implicit in the decline of black farming was the loss of the land those farmers once tilled. Today, African Americans compose less than 2 percent of the nation’s farmers and 1 percent of its rural landowners.
Many factors contributed to the loss of black-owned land during the 20th century, including systemic discrimination in lending by the US Department of Agriculture, the industrialization that lured workers into factories, and the Great Migration. But the lesser-known issue of heirs’ property also played a role, allowing untold thousands of acres to be forcibly bought out from under black rural families—often second-, third-, or fourth-generation landowners whose ancestors were enslaved—by real-estate developers and speculators.
By one estimate, 81 percent of these early black landowners didn’t make wills, largely due to a lack of access to legal resources. Their descendants then inherited the land without a clear title, and it thereby became designated as heirs’ property. Although heirs’ property exists in many regions of the country, it’s most prevalent in low-income communities. In the South, according to one estimate, more than 50 percent of heirs’-property owners are African-American, many of them the descendants of slaves and sharecroppers. The Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation, based in Charleston County, South Carolina, estimates that there are 105,000 acres of heirs’ property in its 15-county service area alone.
Without a clear title, heirs’-property owners are limited in what they can do with their land. They can’t get mortgages or do extensive repairs on their homes; as a consequence, some live in trailers. They aren’t eligible to apply for state or federal housing aid (such as funds provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency) or for nearly any of the programs administered by the Department of Agriculture, including the crucial loans and conservation funding that keep many rural landowners afloat. “So [they’re] already hampered because [they] have heirs’ property,” explains Jennie L. Stephens, the executive director of the center, “but now [they’re] sitting here with these hundreds of acres, and [they] can’t do anything with it.”
As with the Allen family, heirs’ property is often jointly owned by many descendants, some of whom are scattered across the country and may never have met one another. Each has a claim to the land, but this type of joint ownership makes them vulnerable to a peculiar legal challenge: Any one of these co-owners has the legal right to sell their share of the property—or even to bring the whole parcel of land to court-ordered auction—without the consent of the others.
These “partition sales” are one cause of the dispossession crisis,according to the Heirs’ Property Retention Coalition. Property developers entice faraway relatives who may never have visited their family’s land to sell their share for a fraction of its market value. Once they buy a share, these developers can then sell all of the land at auction for a large profit. A 2001 report from the US Agricultural Census estimated that about 80 percent of black-owned farmland had disappeared in the South since 1969. Approximately half of that land was lost through partition sales.
Thomas W. Mitchell, an expert in heirs’ property at the Texas A&M University School of Law, says families will often try to fend off partition sales by arguing that their land is historically significant, or of cultural importance to the African-American community. But until recently, the courts weren’t legally required to take into account the historical or cultural value of the land, and so they generally don’t.
Mitchell attributes the persistent and ongoing issue of partition sales in the African-American community to a question of power, at least in part. “If the Kennedys, the Bushes, or the Clintons had their property sold under these circumstances,” he says, “the law would have been reformed” by now.
Hilton Head, on the southeastern coast of South Carolina, is one of more than 100 coastal islands that form the Sea Islands. Though it is now primarily known as a golfing and resort destination, Hilton Head was once almost entirely inhabited by the Gullah people. The Gullah are descendants of enslaved West Africans who, like Dennis Allen, moved to the Sea Island region at the end of the Civil War, or who had previously been enslaved on area plantations. Gullah communities thrived for decades on the isolated islands, largely free of the restrictions of the Jim Crow South. For generations, they maintained an agricultural, barter-based economy.
Then, in the mid-1950s, development came to Hilton Head. Wealthy industrialists bought up hundreds of acres for recreational sites as highway and bridge construction made it easier for mainland residents to reach the islands. By the 1990s, the waterfront properties on Hilton Head had become highly desirable among wealthy whites seeking a vacation home.
The development displaced many Gullah people. Some families lost their land to rising property taxes, which they could no longer afford to pay, but others lost their land in partition sales, their property brought to auction by developers in forced sales or by partial owners convinced to sell it for a fraction of its value. In areas where the Gullah once made up 90 percent or more of the population, they account for as little as 10 percent today, according to Willie Heyward, managing attorney at the Heirs’ Property Law Firm. Somewhere between 200 and 700 acres of the land on Hilton Head—no one knows the exact number— remain in Gullah hands.
“The property that we owned was prime property,” says Alex Brown, a Gullah native and chair of the island’s planning commission. “Over time, it’s been sold and traded and stolen.” And because of the Gullah’s unique history of agricultural production, the loss of land amounts to a loss of culture.
“If we don’t have our land, we don’t have our family,” says Queen Quet, chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation. “This is the battle we’re in now.”
Beyond Hilton Head, all of South Carolina has experienced enormous demographic shifts in the past 50 years. African Americans comprised nearly half of the state’s farmers in 1950, but by 2012 represented just 7 percent. In Beaufort County, which includes Hilton Head and other coastal islands, the population is now 77 percent white, compared with 57 percent black in 1950. This shift has created tension between “native islanders” and the newcomers, many of them white retirees from the North. And it was facilitated by the forced sale of thousands of acres of black-owned land. To this day, Mitchell says, South Carolina is the “ground zero” of African-American partition sales.
Many members of the Allen family say they never wanted to get involved with Horace Jones Jr. Some say a distant relative had begun conversations with the lawyer about clearing the title to the Allen family land—that is, removing Dennis Allen’s name from the title and replacing it with the names of living heirs, thus eliminating any legal ambiguities around their ownership of the land—but they add that the family never hired him. Another member of the family told The Island Packet, the local paper serving Beaufort County, that the family had retained Jones to help track its genealogy and build a family tree to help clear the title to the land. But many agree that Jones didn’t have anyone’s consent to start a lawsuit—allegedly on behalf of several family members—to partition and sell the 38-acre plot in 2009.
Jones had worked as an attorney in York County, South Carolina, on heirs’-property and other estate cases for more than two decades. According to an article in the Rock Hill Herald, former clients described him as “a stand-up guy.” The Allens disagree. Members of the family listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit that Jones initiated insisted to me, as well as in affidavits submitted to the court, that they didn’t want to sell the land, and that Jones forged their signatures. The family has filed an unsuccessful motion to dismiss the partition case. Yet because the Allen family tree is still unfinished and the title has yet to be cleared, the judge could rule at any time simply to auction off the land.
Since Jones filed the initial sale documents, the Allens have been approached by several developers hoping to buy their land, or to convince family members to sell their stake in it. One real-estate developer, the Melrose Holding Company, offered $4.5 million for the property.
There have been many opinions in the Allen family about selling their land—and, indeed, one branch of the extended family, composed of about six people, has retained another lawyer, Terry Finger, to represent their interests in court. But much of the family doesn’t want to sell. “We have worked hard to save this piece of land,” says Ethel Simmons, Matthew Allen’s cousin, who lives on the property with her mother. “If we lose the land, it’s going to hurt a lot of us.”
In August 2016, many members of the family submitted affidavits to the Beaufort County Court to say they weren’t notified of the land’s partitioning and were “stunned” that the sale was initiated without the family’s consent. They expressed particular concern over the fate of elderly relatives still living on the property should the auction proceed. “We are not wild [beasts roaming] on the property, we are law-abiding citizens,” wrote Queen Mary Allen-Davis, a member of the family, in an affidavit. “We are not animals. We are people.”
As the Allens struggled to free themselves from Jones’s lawsuit, the lawyer’s reputation was sullied by felony charges alleging that he had stolen about $750,000 from clients. On October 12, 2015—the date Jones was scheduled to appear at his trial—he shot himself in a wooded area about 200 miles from the courthouse. The allegations against him included an account from a woman who had hired Jones to assist in clearing the titles to five parcels of heirs’ property. Jones allegedly sold the land without her consent, collecting the profits for himself.
On September 22, 2016, Nikki Haley, then governor of South Carolina, signed the Clementa C. Pinckney Uniform Partition of Heirs’ Property Act. The law, named for the revered state senator and pastor who was killed in the 2015 massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, provides several protections for heirs’- property owners. If one co-tenant initiates a sale, for instance, the other co-tenants must be given an opportunity to buy that tenant’s share before the land can be sold. The act also requires judges to consider things like the sentimental, cultural, or historical significance of the land as well as its market value (previously the only consideration in most cases) before ruling to sell it. And if the land is sold, it must be sold on the open market instead of at auction, so that families receive a fair price. Josh Walden, the supervising attorney at the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation, calls the act a “great tool” with the potential to preserve the land of many heirs’-property owners. Queen Quet calls it “a blessing.”
The law has its origins in model legislation that was written in 2010 by the Uniform Law Commission, which drafts bills for states to consider. Thomas W. Mitchell was its lead author—only the second African American in the history of the commission to serve as the lead author of a uniform law. He calls the act the “most significant reform to property law in the history of this country.” It has already been passed by 10 states, including Alabama, Connecticut, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas, and was introduced in the District of Columbia earlier this year.
Beyond South Carolina, there is some evidence that black land ownership is on the rise. One 1999 study found that there were roughly 68,000 black agricultural landowners in the United States who owned more than 7.7 million acres, mostly in the South. The 2012 Census of Agriculture showed that the number of farms with black principal operators had risen 9 percent since 2007.
For some heirs’-property owners on the Sea Islands, the new law may prove seminal in protecting what land remains in the Gullah’s hands. For others, it comes too late. For the Allens, the law’s effect remains to be seen. While the family is cautiously optimistic, they would still need to bring a new lawsuit under the act, since it doesn’t apply retroactively to their existing case.
Margarite Washington, Matthew Allen’s cousin, has lived on Allen Road her whole life. Behind her home is a small memorial, a two-foot cross with a few flowers planted around it. Nearly five years ago, her 8-year-old nephew was killed by a stray bullet on that spot. “If they take the land, we’ll lose all of this,” she says, motioning to the memorial. “We would be devastated. Where are we going to go?”
To read more more Click or Copy link: https://www.thenation.com/article/african-americans-have-lost-acres/Post Views: 89