Spotlight on Leadership
Today, November 5th is Election Day, a chance to cast your vote and have a say in who will make the big decisions that impact you and your family. As we consider who we want our future leaders to be, we wanted to take a moment to highlight the accomplishments of past leaders whose contributions we still benefit from.
Fannie Lou Hamer
Often recognized for her trailblazing work in the realm of civil and political, Fannie Lou Hamer also started a project in 1969, entitled the Freedom Farms Cooperative. Built on over 600 acres, this co-op was critical for supporting the needs of Black farmers who were - and continue to be - discriminated against and minimized by the USDA. The FFC provided services like
Father Albert J. McKnight
Father Albert J. McKnight is a Louisiana priest whose commitment to the Black community led him to establish the Southern Cooperative Development Program in 1967. The SCDP offered cooperative education and technical assistance to cooperatives and credit unions located throughout the south, in order to address the economic inequities apparent in an unjust food and land system. In terms of his national prominence, he was appointed by Jimmy Carter to serve on the first Board of Directors of the National Cooperative Bank.
Formerly a GA State Director of Rural Development for the USDA, Shirley Sherrod’s perseverance and determination cannot go unnoticed. After her and her husband lost their farm due to the USDA’s discriminatory lending practices, they became class action plaintiffs in the landmark Pigford v. Glickman case, which had been dubbed the ‘largest civil rights settlement in history.’ Today, she continues to work alongside organizations like the NAACP to bring justice to African-American farmers across the country.
These unsung heroes of the food justice movement had to make challenging decisions in order to enact positive change. We carry on their legacy and continue to work diligently to realize our collective vision of food sovereignty.