Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement
Reflections on White’s Freedom Farmers
Keywords:Black Freedom Movement, Agrarian Justice, Collective Agency and Community Resilience, Black History, Cooperatives, Civil Rights Movement
Landmark: 1. An object or feature of a landscape . . . that is easily seen and recognized from a distance, especially one that enables someone to establish their location. Synonyms: mark, indicator, guiding light, signal, beacon, lodestar. 2. An event or discovery marking an important stage or turning point in something. Synonyms: milestone, watershed . . . major achievement. (“Landmark,” n.d., para. 1 & 4)
Dr. Monica White’s Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement stands literally as a landmark, ushering in a new era of community-based scholarship with and for agrarian justice. From here on out, scholars, activists, practitioners have a lodestar from which to research, practice, and advocate for food, farm, and racial justice: Dr. White’s framework of “collective agency and community resilience” (CACR). Food studies scholars from across and beyond academic disciplines are in strong consensus as to the importance of this pivotal book—a manuscript that draws upon and advances rural sociology, history, agri-food studies, Black history, cooperative economics, and more. In this set of reflections on Freedom Farmers, McCutcheon lauds how the work is a “love letter” to past, present, and future Black farmers, and the powerful pedagogical potential of such celebration. Reese recounts how the book excavates the erased histories of Black women leaders and farmers, showing us how to “re/see the world” through this powerful lens. Babb calls the text a gift that “flips the script” to provide informative and inspirational narratives of food justice and food sovereignty in action. Hall commends how the book “pushes us to participate in the remaking of our communities with honesty, resilience, solidarity, and love.” Sarmiento notes how, even as the book critiques structural racism, it offers a generous, affirmative vision of resistance and agency. Wilson concurs that the book opens radical possibilities for hope, particularly in the classroom. I would also point readers to Cynthia Greenlee’s (2018) Civil Eats interview with Dr. White, which highlights how the book sheds light on the overlooked role of Black farmers in the Civil Rights movement, resurgence of Black agriculture and scholarship on it, and the ongoing necessity of affirming collective agency in the fight against racism at large. . . .
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A note from the authors: Special thanks to West Virginia University's Food Justice Lab for first gathering us in 2018, and to WVU's Wilderness Geography Wild Food Lab. Thanks also to American University School of International Service for supporting the American Association of Geographer's 2019 Author-Meets-Colleagues Panel for Dr. White's book.
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