Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Black Landowners Uplifted “Our Superheroes”

     My name is Steven Burns Jr. I am a youth organizer at Nollie Jenkins Family Center. We are currently working on our living history initiative, also known as our Black Land Ownership Project. We have currently interviewed 16 different black landowners and farmers from across Holmes County. This has been learning and engaging process for me and some of their stories have brought tears to your eyes. Just hearing the stories of stolen land, and the pain and suffering endured just to feed and provide for families, made me appreciate the wisdom and strength of elders within my community so much more! Many whites tried to steal land from African Americans by forging signatures, decreasing the value of the land & even making land owners put their land up to pay for debts owed. The tricks were numerous and sadly some of them worked. Having land was the only means of taking care of their families, many of which were very poor, rather it was growing crops, raising livestock or renting; when land was taken it stopped the very means of providing for their families. 

      We are now working to get the videos edited and published. We not only have to publish the videos but get these black landowners stories heard throughout schools and communities. We are not done with this project we still have to capture many more stories. The purpose of this project is to get these stories heard and also teach the value and purpose of having land. Through this process I have learned that land holds so much power and one day I want to own my own land. We see landowners, farmers and elders within the community as living libraries because of all the raw truth, history and experiences that they have to share. This has been a great learning process for me, & who knows maybe one day I can share my own history and experiences.

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