BOYDTON, Va., April 26, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — America is a peculiar land that killed off its native peoples but preserved the names honoring their ancient history, writer Jamaica Kincaid once observed. That historic pattern survives in modern Tennessee, according to John W. Boyd, Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA).
Boyd believes that Tennessee supported a “land grab” that will rob Black farmers of land and economic stability by approving the Ford Motor Company’s BlueOval City, a $5.6 billion electric truck and battery factory under construction in western Haywood County.
“This is what happens every time these mega companies come into our ancestral community. We lose our land, and their companies grow larger at the Black farmers’ expense,” Boyd charged. He also said that Ford has done little to support and assist Black farmers whose land is subject to government seizure via eminent domain.
Meanwhile, Governor Bill Lee and Ford executives continue to tout the massive development. The campus occupies an area of six square miles near Stanton, Tennessee, in western Haywood County. The rural area, located some 50 miles northeast of Memphis, has a population of about 17,000. The plant is set to open in 2025. Ford announced that it is collaborating with the University of Tennessee on ecological concerns and expansion of STEM education for K-12 students.
Lee said BlueOval City promised 6,000 new jobs and a huge economic boost, but arrived with serious questions such as whether the company and local governments could recruit and train an adequate work force.
“Ford’s historic investment in West Tennessee is a testament to our state’s strong business climate and unmatched workforce,” Lee said. He called it the “largest single investment in this state’s history” and one that will have a “generational impact on people and families across our state.” Workers would be drawn from surrounding areas, the planners projected.
BlueOval City is named for Ford’s familiar logo, a symbol of the nearly 120-year-old company and dominant American industrial entity. The project required a $500 million investment to be supported by the state legislature, Lee estimated.
Boyd, who farms in Baskerville, Virginia, declared the Ford Company deal a “national disgrace,” adding, “we are facing extinction.” According to Boyd, by 1900, there were nearly 1 million Black farm families. “Today we are less than 50,000 Black farmers left in the United States,” he said. “At the turn of the century, Black farmers represented 14% of the nation’s farmers,” Boyd continued. “Today, we are less than 1% of the nation’s farmers.”
He said the NBFA plans to meet with local farmers to discuss possible court action to protect affected NBFA members. “We will not sit back and allow them to steal another foot of Black soil,” said Boyd. He called for a national boycott of Ford cars and trucks. He said the NBFA has requested a meeting with Ford company executives to explore solutions to the Tennessee project’s negative effects on Black farmers. “Ford has not yet responded,” he said.
“I am asking Black Americans to stop buying Ford cars and trucks,” Boyd said. “We cannot buy their products when they are contributing factors to stealing our land.”
SOURCE National Black Farmers Association