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General News    H2'ed 9/26/11

Minority Groups To Hold "FILIBUSTER FOR JUSTICE" at USDA: The Last Plantation

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Present and former U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees and minority farmers have planned a daily non-stop demonstration in front of the agency's Washington, DC office.  The kick-off day for the "Filibuster for Justice" event is Tuesday, October 4, 2011.  A host of speakers including John Boyd, President of the National Black Farmers Association, will address the lack of accountability at USDA.   

"The primary purpose of this event is to continue to bring attention to the American public, the Obama White House, the Congress, and the leadership team of Secretary Tom Vilsack at the Department of Agriculture of the unceasing sexism, racism, reprisal, intimidation, sexual assaults, and other civil and human rights violations that must end for thousands of USDA employees and minority farmers," said Lawrence Lucas, President of the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees.

A GAO 2008 study disclosed that USDA "has been addressing allegations of discrimination for decades and receiving recommendations for improving its civil rights functions without achieving fundamental improvements" (p. 31).  According to some present and former USDA employees, Joe Leonard, Jr.,  USDA's Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, has contributed to the inefficiency of USDA's complaint processing.  Leonard was sworn into the position of Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in April 2009.

Civil rights groups, including The Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C), plan to attend the Filibuster for Justice at USDA, the agency many refer to as - The Last Plantation.  C4C members will stand in solidarity with USDA Coalition of Minority Employees and Black farmers. "Undisputedly, internal discrimination within USDA continues to negatively impact our communities," said Tanya Ward Jordan, founder of the volunteer organization comprised of former and present employees who have been injured or ill-treated due to workplace discrimination and/or reprisal. 

Several months ago, Mr. Philip Taylor, the President of C4C, wrote to USDA to learn what actions, if any, the agency planned to take against public officials who discriminated against the Black farmers and who passed the cost of their civil rights violations onto the taxpayers.  In a reply letter to Mr. Taylor, dated February 2011, USDA officials failed to address any plans for disciplining public officials who denied Black farmers government farm loans because of the color of their skin (Pigford v Glickman).    


About the "Filibuster for Justice":

The event is scheduled to take place in front of US. Department of Agriculture's Washington, DC office, between 12th & 14th Streets SW, Jefferson Drive (Mall Side).   The kick-off will begin at 12:00 p.m. {NOON}.   Sponsors: Black Farmers and USDA Coalition of Minority Employees

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Tanya Ward Jordan is the author of 17 STEPS: A Federal Employee's Guide For Tackling Workplace Discrimination. She serves as President and Founder of the Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C). C4C is an proactive non-profit self-help organization (more...)

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