My Ancestors' Acres Stolen, Seeking Return by Cookie Torreah Washington (detail)
My Ancestors' Acres Stolen, Seeking Return
A Collaborative Project with Acres of Ancestry Initiative/Black Agrarian Fund
President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 on Thursday, March 11th, 2021. The Act provides full debt cancellation of both USDA direct and guaranteed loans as well as federal and state tax relief for all Black, Indigenous, Latino, Asian, and farmers of color. Another $1 billion has been allocated to restore the Black food and fiber land base through regenerative agriculture, cooperative development, land acquisition, technical assistance, and legal support. We are so excited about this sweet victory for our Black legacy farmers.
“This quilt is a tribute to our Black agrarian ancestors whose land has been stolen away in one way or another. My Granddaddy, the Reverend James E. White, was not only a man of God, who preached his last sermon at age 103, but he was also a farmer. Granddaddy loved the land, and he taught all of us the importance of owning a little piece of earth. He stressed that our land was to be shared to feed our families and to be shared with the beloved community. Through the years piece by piece his land was lost. When he died in 1988, all that was left of the many acres he owned in Maryland and the District of Columbia was the small plot of land his home was on.
My Grandmother, Willie Jane, was a quilter and dressmaker. She blessedly taught me those crafts and I have always been able to feed my children with a needle and a bit of cloth. Grandmother taught us to can and cook the fresh vegetables that came from our land. It saddens me that my children and granddaughters will never know the connection to the ‘home place' as my siblings and I did. It is imperative that our lands are returned to Black farmers and their heirs! Land ownership is the primary source of wealth attainment in America, and so many Black families have been denied the ability to pass on the richness of the land to their descendants.”
-Cookie Torreah Washington, Textile Artist from Goose Creek, South Carolina