WASHINGTON: Black farmers say ‘save our land’

African American farmers from across the South protested in front of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nov. 19, charging that it continues to grant loans to white farmers while denying badly needed funds to keep Black families on their land.

USDA statistics confirm their charges. The department grants loans totaling $4 billion with 80 percent of the money going to white, mostly corporate, farmers. As a result, Black farmers have lost their land at an “alarming rate” according to Clinton Bristow, president of Alcorn State University, a historically Black agriculture college. In 90 years, the number of Black farmers has plummeted from 1 million to 18,000.

“What we are talking about – discrimination – is real,” said James Myart, an attorney representing Black farmers.

There are 12 class action suits pending against the USDA for racism.

LAS VEGAS: Dump Bush, not nuclear waste

Hundreds of environmentalists, union members and Democratic Party leaders demonstrated on the Strip, Nov. 25, demanding President Bush reverse his decision to dump 77,000 tons of nuclear waste on Yucca Mountain, 100 miles north of the country’s fastest-growing city.

Bush was in town to pick up checks at a $2,000 per plate fund-raiser at the Venetian Casino, in his first visit since the 2000 election.

“Yucca Mountain is the main area we’re interested in,” said Peggy Maze Johnson of the environmental group Citizen Alert.

Leading state Democratic elected officials denounced Bush’s decision to dump nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain and joined the protests organized by the November 25 Committee the following day.

KANSAS CITY, Mo.: Sprint lays off 2,000 workers

What does a billion dollars in profit look like? Try the paychecks of 2,000 working families. Sprint Telecommunications, which employs 70,000 around the country including 20,000 in Kansas City, announced that it plans to increase profits by $1 billion by eliminating the jobs of 2,000 workers, mostly in the Kansas City area.

In the last two years, Sprint has slashed 21,000 workers from its payroll.

NASHVILLE, Tenn.: School administrators sue for racial justice

Reva M. Chatman served the Nashville Metropolitan School District for three decades. Suddenly she was demoted from district Human Resources Director to classroom teacher. She decided to retire and contacted an attorney. “It became clear to me I was treated differently from other individuals,” Chatman said. “I had worked for the district for 32 years, had excellent credentials. Why all of a sudden am I incompetent when I was considered extremely competent under other superintendents? The only thing I had left to consider was the fact that I was treated differently because I am African American.”

Seven other district administrators have joined Chatman and filed a class action suit for racial justice.

A state investigation into employment practices in the district before the most recent suit revealed that the Metro district has not complied with state desegregation guidelines for two years, risking the loss of state and federal funding.

Chatman is leading a coalition of educators, the Alliance for School Equity and Excellence, that demands that the district work in a collaborative manner and establish a peer review committee to evaluate demotions, terminations and retirements.

INDIANAPOLIS: Grocery workers defending health care

While their brothers and sisters are on the picket lines in Southern California, West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 700, 4,000 strong, are working under an extended contract because the corporation, Kroger, has agreed to discuss health care costs.

On Nov. 3, Local 400 members voted by a 3-1 margin to reject Kroger’s final contract offer and authorized a strike. The main issue was the company’s demand to gut workers’ health care benefits. A federal mediator brought the company back to the bargaining table and union workers have continued on the job. In a message to workers, the UFCW said of the talks, “Some progress has been made due to the resolve of Local 700 members.”

Kroger has advertised for scabs at its 58 central Indiana stores represented by the UFCW.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com).
Julia Lutsky contributed to this week’s clips.