When was the last time that you had that proverbial, "the clock is ticking" experience? What was the issue? What would happen if certain things did not get done in a timely manner? What would happen if things did indeed get done in a timely manner? What kind of pressure do you and I feel when our backs are against the wall, to use another metaphor?
The Grant family is in that situation.
The family has done a good job of representing itself pro se, or "on behalf of themselves." See this definition. Now, the United States Court of Federal Claims has asserted that the Grant family must be represented by an attorney who can practice in that court. This requires expertise and it is expensive.
We invite you to support this noble cause.
How did things get to this level? Here are some of the details that I wrote from the gofundme page in the past on behalf of Matthew and Florenza Grant.
In the small historic community of Tillery, North Carolina, on a farm to market road, “Roanoke Drive” adjoining the Over the Farm Road, stands a granite sarcophagus, inscribed with the names of Matthew Grant and Florenza Moore Grant. Located where the family’s vegetable garden once was found lie the remains of these two good family farmers. They are still waiting for justice from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) as are their family and friends.
Matthew Grant was born just 50 years after slavery, his land-owning family, descendants of share-croppers in southern Virginia. Matthew married his beloved Florenza Moore in 1940 and together they formed a marriage and family that raised six children and numerous nephews and nieces, all educated from proceeds of farming in the Tillery Resettlement Community.
Their stories of discrimination began in 1971 and remain unresolved to this day. They died prematurely in the battle to save their farm from foreclosure. At one time, it is estimated that they had spent 100,000 hours fighting the discriminatory practices of the USDA. They died before seeing justice. The estate is now fighting for justice for Matthew and Florenza.
On three separate occasions, the USDA and the DOJ admitted that discrimination had occurred. On each of these three occasions, they finagled their way out of honoring due process for Matthew and Florenza.
Here is another report from the gofundme page.
Summary of USDA’s Discriminatory Actions Toward the Grants
Admittedly, farming under the influence of the USDA is very complicated. Here is a brief summary of the injustices Matthew and Florenza Grant experienced at the hands of the USDA.
• Originally the Grants were foreclosed upon in 1976 for the sum of $10,000 following three years of county-wide disasters with little to no support from the county office in restructuring loans or other benefits given to any white farmer.
• In 1981 the Grants signed a “Consent Judgment” against their property such that the USDA would release farm equipment. This was, according to the USDA, a “settlement of sorts,” which allowed them to continue farming; however, the USDA refused to allow one son who was a farmer to assume their debt, but instead foreclosed on him as well. The USDA also refused to allow another son to assume the debt and would not work with the adult children on a monthly payment plan.
• In March, 1998, Matthew Grant and the USDA Civil Rights Officers signed a “FINAL RESOLUTION AGREEMENT,” documented with photographs of Secretary Glickman, other USDA officials, and two Grant sons after the signing of the agreement. This action is further documented in a letter from the Director of the Office of Civil Rights dated March 27, 1998.
• In 2000, under the leadership of another Director of the Office of Civil Rights, the USDA offered a settlement which was deemed an insult by the family. The USDA said that they wanted to settle with the family once and for all.
• Later in 2000, when it appeared that the USDA was reneging on their agreement, the Grants entered a class action suit Wise etal v. Veneman in a case that is yet to be settled.
• Upon Matthew and Florenza’s deaths (2001), the family heirs attempted to settle once more with the USDA. The requirement by the Department of Justice was that the action, withdrawal from the Wise law suit must be done “with prejudice,” a term signifying that charges could never be brought again. This would mean that all rights of the Grants would be surrendered, something all black farmers have faced.
• The USDA and DOJ are hiding behind technicalities such as no “similarly situated white farmer” was named. This is untrue. The family did point out a “similarly situated white farmer.” This claim is ludicrous.
• Currently, the family heirs are paying a large sum of money to a local bank that has paid off the federal government so that the land cannot be foreclosed upon. This monthly payment is weighty and onerous for the family.
• Justice is still left undone for Matthew and Florenza. This one final possibility through administrative procedures is the final opportunity for justice.
Here is a picture of Matthew Grant, his truck, and his dog. Below is a photo of the Grant family and my wife and me at the sarcophagus of Matthew and Florenza Grant.