In 1999 following the largest ever civil rights settlement in the history of the United States, minority farmers in North Carolina believed that perhaps their situations would change. The USDA had acknowledged discriminatory practices when it came to lending for minority farmers. Now perhaps they would stop losing their land at rates far faster than white farmers. Perhaps they would have equal access to farm loans.
The black farmers of North Carolina were some of the first to desegregate their schools. They had been targeted by the Ku Klux Klan as crosses were burned in their front yards. They were pulled off school buses and beaten. Their parents were sharecroppers. The farmers of today grew up picking cotton and growing tobacco.
Now twenty years after Timothy Pigford filed his historic lawsuit, many black farmers in North Carolina continue to struggle to find innovative ways to stay on their land. Finding niche markets such as organic farming has allowed many to make ends meet. But without access to capital and resources, their hopes that farming will be a viable career for their children often seems like a distant dream.