North Carolina Newspapers

    Black farmers say settlement amounts to 'slim pickins' |
' THE rwoiacu!
March 2, may be the day of
reckoning for Mack farmers .
March 2, is the day U.S. Dis
trict Court Judge Paul Fried
man will either approve or dis
approve of the dissent decree
that will allow black farmers to
settle up with the government
for almost S400 million.
Two years ago the farmers
filed a lawsuit against the
department for discriminatory
practices suffered from 1981
19%, but a recent settlement by
the two sides has all but elimi
nated the court case and now
the March 2 fairness bearing is
the target date.
The settlement outlines sev
eral options for blacks includ
ing a S50,000 cash payout in
conjunction with debt forgive
ness on past loans. Farmers
also have the opportunity to
receive more money if they are
able to prove a "preponderance
of discrimination."
Which farmers say is a prob
"We're happy that the gov
ernment has decided to put a
settlement on the table, but we
are not pleased with the fine
print," said Gary Grant,
National Black Farmers and
Agriculturalist Association
Grant, a farmer from Tillery
says the $50,000 offered to the
thousands of farmers who
signed up to be part of the suit,
but ith a drop in the bucket
compared to the 10 to 15-year
struggle they have had to
"(The USDA) can never
make up for all they have done,
but certainly they can make'a
valiant effort to help the farm
ers," he said.
The class action suit which
was filed by lead plaintiff and
Bladen County fanner Tim Pig
ford was worth $3 billion but
according to Grant, the settle
ment proposed by the govern
ment amounts to a tenth of that
figure. Grant says the disparity
could eventually eliminate the
black farmer in the coming
yean since many cannot con
tinue to make a living tilling the
But not all farmers agree
Sam Taylor, NBFAA executive
director who has been in the
fight for Mack farmers since
1990, has a different take on the
recent settlement.
"I believe in the dissent
decree," Taylor said. "The dis
sent decree while it is not a per
feet solution, it is a honorable
The 41-year-old points out
that the package black fanners
have is better than what appears
on paper. Taylor says when you
add the $50,000 cash payout
with the elimination of past
loan debts along with the legal
fees that are waived the average .
dollar value for each farmer
jumps to SlS0,000-$200,000.
Taylor also says a fairness
hearing scheduled for March
See Formers on A11
? I
73 cents Winston-Salem Greensboro High Point vol. xxv no. 22
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Winston salem nc 27 0-2755 Choice for African American News and Information e-mail address: wschron 6
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,p Photo by Bruce Chapman
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I Insurance rate triples; small companies on rocks |
The city underscored its com
mitment to nurture upstart busi
nesses last week when the innov
ative venture-capital investment
program squeezed its way
through the board of aldermen.
__ But several local taxicab own
ers say the city has erected a
brick wall on their path to suc
cess blocking them frorti achiev
ing the American Dream.
Six, mostly small, indepen
dent cab owners have signed a
letter urging aldermen to lower
the minimum amount of liability
insurance that each taxi must
have. They say the city requires
them to be insured at a level
higher than anywhere else in the
"Transportation is an impor
tant asset in this city. We offer an
alternative, but we can't get out
there like we want to," said Ali
Shabazz, owner of A & S Taxi
Shabazz, who owns and oper
ates just one taxi, said he was
forced to stop transporting pas
sengers last month because he
could not afford the insurance'
premiums. He now is only per
mitted to transport parcels.
* Shabazz said he easily made
$400 a week transporting passen
gers, but now he's lucky to bring
in $100.
Many of his cohorts have
also felt the squeeze, he says.
The state sets minimum
insurance liability rates for most
vehicles at $25,000 per person,
$50,000 per accident and $15,000
to cover property damage.
Most cities require taxi dri
vers only to be insured for the
minimum.' Until about three
years ago, Winston-Salem was
one of those cities.
Citing a concern for the safe
ty of citizens, the board of alder
men voted to drastically raise the
liability minimums for taxicabs
to $300,000 per accident,
$100,000 per individual and
$50,000 for property damage.
Cab owners say the higher
minimum rates have sent their
insurance premiums soaring
from about $1,000 a year per
vehicle to $3,000.
Dallas Hamilton, owner of
Dallas Cab Co., and Shabazz say
they both had hoped to add
additional vehicles to their fledg
ling operations, but the city's lia
bility minimums have put that
dream on hold indefinitely.
"This (insurance rates) is just
hurting me," Hamilton said, "We
think this was done to keep
smaller companies out."
But the city's transportation
director said the move was made
to give citizens maximum protec
See Taxi on A10
' ' ' . V . v , ' 1 "
New session offers hope for blacks
RALEIGH - With Democrats
taking center stage after November
elections ousted the GOP majority
in the N.C. House of Representa
tives, members of the General
Assembly say issues affecting
African Americans across the state
stand to gain more consideration.
Topics that will face scrutiny by
the new Democratic regime
include welfare reform, minority
economic development and aid to
chronically underfunded histori
cally black colleges and universi
Four years ago the Republicans
had a similar victory by claiming
the House in much the same way
the Democrats took charge in the
last election. In November Repub
licans lost seven seats in the House
and five seats in the Senate, and
their cry of "revolution" was over.
Now observers say African Ameri
cans stand to gain.
Mickey Michaux. D-Durham,
says the large voter turnout among
minorities in the last election war
rants an equal response from legis
lators when the new session gets
underway. In November black vot
ers went to the polls in record num
bers making up nearly half of all
of the voters thatcast ballots. Now
Michaux believes minorities are in
a position to make demands on .
legislature but such action should
not be necessary.
"After the last election, anyone
who does not prioritize minority
needs near the top is fooling them
selves," Michaux said. "It is evi
dent from the election results what
happened, and black people
should not ever be in a position
where they have to throw it up into
their face."
Topics in past sessions were
often debated by Democrats with
only mild success including welfare
reform, particularly Work First,
and reoccurring minority econom
ic development issues.
"This shift of power will defi
nitely have an effect," Michaux
said. "Thext will be some changes
to welfare issues. And I would like
to see the minority economic
development put on to the contin
uation budget. We have been suc
cessful keeping money in the bud
get for these businesses, but they
Sec Session on All
12th back in court
District once again faces
challenge in high court,
The 12th Congressional District is back before the U.?. Supreme
North Carolina officials are challenging an appeals court ruling last
year that a 12th district map, redrawn in 1997, was unconstitutional.
The 4th circuit appeals court panel, in a^wsuit brought by Robinson
Everett, a Duke University law professor, iaid that
race was the main factor in determining the dis
trict's boundaries. The panel ordered the legislature
to redraw the 12th district a third time. The legisla
tors hurriedly did so last year and the Congression
al primary was delayed from May until September.
Rep. Mel Watt, D-Charlotte, was elected to a
fourth term in November, beating Salisbury dentist
Scott Keadle to become the first African American
elected in a predominantly white district in North
Carolina this century.
In 1992, W&tt and Rep. Eva Clayton, a Democ
rat who represents the 1st Congressional District.
became the first blacks elected to Congress from North Carolina this .
century. Both were elected in predominantly black districts drawn after
the 1990 census.
Then, the 12th District meandered from Gastonia to Durham, along
1-85, earning it the nickname, "The Snake." Supporters said it was drawn
to link urban areas. The district then was more than 60 percent black
See 12th District on A3 -*
Nobel winner to
speak at universities
Wole Soyinka - a Nigerian-bom author and poet who became the first
black to win the Nobel Prize for literature in 1986 - will speak at two local
universities next week.
Soyinka, the current Woodruff Professor of the Arts at Emory Univer
sity. will deliver the, Founder's Dav Convocation
address at Wake Forest University on Feb.2 .
The free ceremony is open to the public. It will
start at 11 a.m. in Wait Chapel.
Soyinka's visit is part of Wake s Year of Global
ization and Diversity, a 12-month program that will
focus on development around the world and global
ization. ? . . , i
The following day, Soyinka will keynote the next
Joseph N, Patterson Lecture series at Winston-Salem
State University.
The lecture at WSSU will also be free and 6pen to
the public. It will begin at* 10:00 a.m. in the Kenneth R.
, Williams Auditorium.
Educated at the University of Ibadan in his native Nigeria and the Uni
versity of Leeds in Great Britian, Soyinka has authored 24 plays,, four nov
els, six volumes of'poems and countless numbers of essays on subjects like
art, literature and culture. , . ?
He has also taught at many universities around world, including Yale
See Nobel on A11
x " v .
Organixort of on fast Winston rottauront oro taking iMr pitch
to local churthot. For full story, too pago A3.

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