Black landowners retain less than half of the farmland they did more than a century ago and that’s by design. In fact, most of the reasons for such substantial land dispossession are cruel, explains Danielle Purifoy, PhD, assistant professor of geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Following the Civil War, Black farmers were systematically denied private credit, loans, and were often tenants on land owned by white farmers rather than landowners themselves.
And when Black people did own land, whether farmland or residential, intentional discriminatory practices led to an inability to keep the land they’d acquired, says Purifoy. “Significant parts of the Great Migration occurred because of people being violently forced off of land that they had title to,” she explains.