LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– The Michigan Legislative Black Caucus was joined by dozens of people at the Capitol rotunda to celebrate black farmers as part of Black History Month.
“The farmers is the lay of the land, farmers are the ones that feed us,” said Chairperson for the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus and Senator, Marshall Bullock.
Each year, members of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus make it a priority to highlight parts of their community that may not always be recognized.
“When we have black history month or we celebrate black history month, sometimes we reach for the low hanging fruit, the easy things, we’ll raise one of our ancestors up, we’ll talk about Thurgood Marshall or Colin Powell, or Reverend Martin Luther King,” said Love.
Last year, they honored judges, and this year it was all about people who put food on our table and look back on the struggles that black farmers have faced over the years.
“African Americans were gaining wealth and lost that through land theft,” said Executive Vice Chairperson for the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus and State Representative, Leslie Love. “Because of slavery, there was a a lot of illiteracy, some owners did not know how to read well and their land was stolen, and then there were others who were educated and did very well with their land and it was just taken away through the culture and what was happening in America at that time.”
Speakers at the event stressed the decline of black farmers over the years. Others say it’s vital for younger generations to see black farmers to motivate them to join the career field.
“It’s important for the youth in particular to see people that look like them, black children to see people that look like them in farming positions, in urban ag., entrepreneurship in these special positions so then they can pick that up when they’re ready as careers,” said Board Chair for the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network and Postdoc Associate at Michigan State University, Shakara Tyler.
Three awards were presented tonight. The Innovation award was presented to the South-East Michigan Producers Association.
The Advocacy award went to the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network.
The Legacy award was given to fourth generation blueberry farmer, Barbara Norman.