How John Deere is helping Black farmers and their descendents take back unjustly seized land
May 14, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 24.8%. 1 min read.
It's been nine years since Michael Robinson of Columbus, Ohio, nearly lost a major part of his family's legacy. He's still fighting to regain full control of it.
Deshler II was suing his family members to force them to sell their portion of the 127 acres of Barlow Bend, Alabama, farmland that they'd inherited from Robinson's late grandfather, Joe Ely. The local county auditor's website determined last year that the land is worth more than $212,000.
What Robinson didn't know nine years ago was that the Deshler family had already purchased 1/15 of Ely's land from Robinson's distant cousins, Maxie Ely Jr. and Sharita Faye Ely, who Robinson said sold their share of the land for a fraction of its value without knowing how their actions could affect the rest of the family.
Deshler then attempted to force Robinson's family to sell the remaining shares of their land through a now-defunct Alabama law that existed in several southern states.
Heirs' property disputes are a common problem for southern Black farmers who often inherit only a fraction of their ancestors' land for a variety of reasons.
There's also a long history of Black farmers and their families being tricked or intimidated into selling their land, or even being chased off it, by violent mobs of southern White farmers looking to seize it and reap the benefits.
Black farmers and their families who inherit land via heirs' property often can't use it as collateral for bank loans to buy farming equipment, putting them at a disadvantage with their White farming peers.