How African American Land Was Stolen in the 20th Century

Steve Hochstadt 14 Aug 2019

The US government gave hundreds of millions of acres of land to whites, but failed to give freed slaves 40 acres and a mule or protect Black farmers from massive theft.
“There were nearly 1 million black farms in 1920, about one-seventh of all American farms, mostly in the South.”

I recently read an article in the New Yorker that so shocked me that I knew I had to tell you, my small audience, all about it. Vast tracts of land owned by African Americans were taken from them in the 20th century. At the heart of the story is racism in many forms: how the promise of emancipation after the Civil War was broken; how whites used bureaucracy and twisted legalisms to take black land from owners too poor to defend themselves; how the teaching of American history was whitewashed to bury this story. I was shocked because, after decades of studying history, I had no idea about this fundamental cause of economic inequality in America. Writing this article pushed me into investigating the even larger story of how black Americans were prevented from owning real estate, one of the fundamental sources of wealth.

Here’s a short version of the history. At the time of Emancipation, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman declared that 400,000 acres formerly held by Confederates be given to African Americans. His order came to be known as the promise of “40 acres and a mule.” But the newly established Freedmen’s Bureau was never able to control enough land to fulfill this promise. In 1866, Congress passed the Southern Homestead Act, opening up 46 million acres of public land in southern states for Union supporters and freed slaves. The land was uncultivated forest and swamp, difficult for penniless former slaves to acquire or use. Southern bureaucrats made it difficult for blacks to access any land and southern whites used violence to prevent blacks from occupying land. Within 6 months, the land was opened to former rebels. In 1876, the law was repealed….

How African American Land Was Stolen in the 20th Century


Solidarity With the Minnesota Nurses Association ~ Informational Picket

NOTE: This event page is set up by United Steelworkers Local 9460 to mobilize our members and friends to the MNA’s Aug. 20 informational picket. To get in touch with the MNA directly, go to:
The Minnesota Nurses Association is currently engaged in contract negotiations with both Essentia Health and St. Luke’s. Their negotiations have been tough, so they have decided to hold an informational picket on August 20 to both put pressure on Esssentia and St. Luke’s, but also to inform the public about their struggle. Our union, United Steelworkers Local 9460, is supporting the MNA and has notified both Essentia and St. Luke’s that we will be participating in and supporting the Aug. 20 informational picket.

Keep in mind an informational picket is not a strike. No workplaces are being shut down as part of this action. Rather, it is a peaceful assembly of workers on public sidewalks holding signs and handing out literature to the public. You likely will be disciplined if you skip work to attend this. However, we are urging our members to join these pickets when they are off the clock.

If you have any Steelworker garb or buttons that you can wear, or if you want to make a sign saying “USW Local 9460 Supports the MNA”, please do so. We want to show our support to MNA because our union believes in solidarity and working people supporting one another. But we also want to show Essentia Health and St. Luke’s that the labor movement is united in demanding fair and just contracts. We all deserve better than what we are currently getting, and together, we will all do better!

The August 20 MNA informational pickets will run from noon until 6pm. There will be two of them going on at the same time. One will be in front of Essentia Health, at 407 E. 3rd Street, and the other will be in front of St. Luke’s on East 1st Street in between 9th Ave. and 11th Ave. Spread the word. You don’t have to be a union member to participate. We hope to see you there on the picket line!

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Garifuna Face Attack, Contact Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Secundino Torres, one of the OFRANEH leader of the community

“Our ancestral territory is not just a piece of land under our feet. For us, it means spirituality, food, language, and culture,” said Alfredo Lopez, a leader with OFRANEH (the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, a partner of Grassroots International).

The Afro-descendant Garifuna people believe without their lands, access to the ocean and natural resources they would cease to be a people. In Honduras, Vallecito represents the Garifuna resistance and reclamation of their ancestral history and is currently under threat.

We have been receiving on-the-ground updates from OFRANEH about the most recent wave of violence, oppression and forced eviction they are facing. Below is a letter that OFRANEH sent to Paulo Abrão, the Executive Secretary for the Inter-America Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, of the human rights abuses they are experiencing. We will continue to let our donor-activists know how they can support OFRANEH and the Garifuna communities in Vallecito during this critical period.


Cordial greetings from our organization.

With regard to compliance with the Precautionary Measures issued in favor of Miriam Miranda (MC 322-11), OFRANEH is obliged to point out the non-compliance with the needs expressed before the Technical Committee of the Protection Mechanism.

The unique situation in Honduras does not contribute to the safety of people dedicated to the defence of the human and territorial rights of Indigenous Peoples, considering that much of Honduras’ northern coast is under the control of organized crime, which has taken over much of the Garífuna territory, a situation that the State knows well, tends to minimize.

As is known to both the authorities and human rights organizations, in Honduras there is a selective elimination of social leaders and human rights defenders, and despite the apparent decline in homicides in the country, it is not reflected in improvement for human rights defenders.

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, reflected, “despite great efforts to establish an effective protection mechanism, the vast majority of human rights defenders in Honduras can not work in a safe and conducive environment. They are in danger in most parts of the country and do not feel safe due to numerous attacks, threats, the criminalization of their activities and the lack of access to justice.”

In the case of Miriam Miranda, one of the places she visits most frequently is Vallecito, territory that was occupied for more than a decade by organized crime, which came to control more than 80% of the territory and build an airstrip that was dynamited on two occasions, and to date there is a permanent pressure to use the path to the beach.

On several occasions, Miriam Miranda, in meetings with the Technical Committee of the Protection Mechanism, has requested that the presence of military personnel be renewed, with the aim of avoiding the constant incursions into the territory of Vallecito by men carrying high-caliber weapons, who usually head towards the beach for unknown purposes.

Every day between 6 and 8 men on motorbikes raid the beach and to date they have already cut the fence of the Camp of Vallecito 7 times, generating anguish and seriously endangering the lives of the people who inhabit the community of Vallecito. A very serious event occurred last Friday, August 2nd in the evening hours, an undetermined number of men shot at three comrades living by the lagoon shore near the sea, they had to run into the mountains to safeguard their lives.

As OHCHR itself points out, in Honduras there is a prevailing “absence of a comprehensive public policy: institutions do not understand the concept of defending human rights defenders” in addition to the “absence of a preventive approach in the design of public policy regarding the protection for this collective”, a situation that hinders negotiations with the Technical Committee of the Protection Mechanism, which only shows interest in providing the beneficiary of the MC, an armoured car (which has been rejected by our coordinator), since it does not address her other requests that above all is a request to provide security in the area where she remains most of the time — Vallecito. This situation reflects the lack of political will of the State to fulfill its responsibility to provide security to our General Coordinator, as well as to the Garifunas leaders who are defending our historical rights.

It should be noted that Miriam Miranda has suffered, on more than one occasion, confrontations with elements of the National Police, which despite identifying and demonstrating that she has Precautionary Measures; security agents have intended to arrest her; demonstrating how in Honduras there is enormous racism that aggravates the situation of the defender. ###



Student artists decorate Milwaukee County bus with a mural celebrating immigrants and protesting ICE


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The Milwaukee Art Museum and Milwaukee County Transit System just unveiled a Milwaukee County bus decorated with a mural celebrating immigrants and protesting ICE.

The project, part of the Art Museum’s eXpress Milwaukee internship program, was designed and created by Milwaukee-area teenagers.

The mural, which covers the entire bus, features an ICE agent with his arms crossed in between two hands attempting to touch, another ICE agent arresting a small child, instructions on “what to do if ICE comes to your door, and the message “Milwaukee is immigrant strong.”


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Detroit, August 19, 2019: Report from Puerto Rico by Ricardo Santos Ramos, UTIER

Featured speaker Ricardo Santos Ramos, former President of UTIER, the Electrical and Irrigation Workers union of Puerto Rico.

Hear a first hand report on the tremendous demonstrations and general strike in Puerto Rico that forced the resignation of Governor Ricky Rosello. But the people of Puerto Rico still face loss of pensions, privatization and school closings to pay off the $130 billion debt to the finance capital.
Ricardo will share his perspective on the next phase in the struggle, to demand an end to the “Junta”, the financial control board” that is the true ruler of Puerto Rico, and the newest developments in the Promesa Bankuptcy Case

End the Austerity. Cancel the Debt!

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This event will be streamed via facebook live. Details will be posted on this event page.