Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Put this in the small world file

You may have been reading about the resignation of Shirley Sherrod the local Georgia USDA official who may some racist remarks.

What you may not fully appreciate is that Ms. Sherrod was part of the largest civil rights case against the USDA known as the Pigford litigation. The suit took advantage of a Clinton era internal investigation by the USDA finding pervasive and systemic racial prejudice in the USDA's farm loan programs. The Clinton administration, with the help of the Congressional Black Caucus, set aside half a billion dollars to settle claims under the class action suit. It was the largest settlement of a civil rights suit brought against the Government.

With the settlement, individual plaintiffs could seek a single payment of approximately $50,000 (Track A) or go through a binding arbitration with no limit on damages. According to some sources, the number of claims for Track A exceeded the entire population of African American farmers in the United States. Needless to say, many claims were rejected but may unverifiable claims were paid simply because the settlement allowed for damages related to loan denials going back to the 1980's (for which the USDA no longer had documentation).

Sherrod was part of a Georgia communal farm, known as New Communities, Inc., which was part of the suit against the Government.

How do I know? I was working for the Department of Justice and represented the Government in this claim. Given the above mentioned settlement, the case was one of those Track B binding arbitration proceedings. Ultimately, New Communities, Inc., received nearly $13 million dollars.

I had the chance to meet and depose many of those involved with New Communities including Ms. Sherrod. I can say it was many years ago but once I heard the name I remembered it instantly and was not surprised. These are militant activists who are hardwired to believe that everything in American society is racist. While Ms. Sherrod and her husband were very pleasent they were convinced that New Communities failure was due to racism and not some other reason.


lexi2 said...

After researching a bit I found that Charles Sherrod was a Civl Rights Activist in the 60's and was a member of the New Communities Inc with Sherry Sherrod. He has a park names after him in Albany, GA. Have you considered contacting Glenn Beck to share with him your experience?

Greg Kline said...

No, I have not. New Communities and the Pigford litigation is probably more interesting than the current story around Shirley Sherrod.