Free the Land: Shirley Sherrod and Black Land Struggles in the South


The struggle for Black economic independence: not a lot of people have had a chance to design a new community, to be different and equal, co-owned by its residents. In 1969 Shirley Sherrod co-founded a collective farm in Lee County, Georgia. At 6,000 acres, it was the largest tract of black-owned land in the United States. What happened to the New Communities land trust they planned? Let's just say they were way, way ahead of their time but their time just might be coming back.

Shirley Sherrod is a long time civil rights organizer, and trainer. Sherrod became a media target during the 2009 scandal when right-wing propagandist Andrew Breitbart doctored a tape featuring her, that resulted in her dismissal from her appointed post as Georgia State Director of Rural Development for the USDA. But many years before that, Sherrod was working to build vibrant, multiracial Southern communities through cooperative agricultural work. Sherrod faced hurdles even then, losing funding and being threatened with violence due to race-based oppositon.

Today, Sherrod sits on the executive committee of the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative for Economic and Social Justice, a collective of women leaders in the South. All that and a commentary from Laura on America’s scapegoating of our poorest residents.

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