May 26, 2022

Walmart gives Mississippi Center for Justice $400K to help black farmers

Therese Apel

Photo by Laurel and Michael Evans on Unsplash

Walmart has awarded the Mississippi Center for Justice a $400,000 grant to help black farmers and landowners.

The grant comes through the Center for Racial Equity to support the organization’s heirs’ property project, which helps Black farmers and families keep, protect and utilize their land. Heirs’ property is the leading cause of land loss for Black landowners and is a major problem in Mississippi, where many Black Mississippians’ farmland has been in their families for generations without legal documents proving ownership.

Without proper documentation, families and farmers are prohibited from securing loans to improve or develop their property. Even worse, developers can take the land through court-ordered sales. Once-cherished family land, which should be a source of family wealth, might be lost or deemed worthless – exacerbating the racial wealth gap between Black and white families. MCJ educates and provides technical assistance to the families of Black farmers that might be confronted with heirs’ property issues.

“Black farmers would love to live the American dream but many are unable to unlock the economic value of their land. Often the cost of legal fees exceeds the value of the land. MCJ’s pro-bono Heirs Property Project helps ensure many Black farmers and families in Mississippi can protect and improve their enterprises. This grant from Walmart will allow us to help more farmers secure their land and access the wealth that is rightly theirs,” said Andrea Barnes, Director of Heirs’ Property Project.

“Black farmers need the tools to secure their land in order to access capital, grow their businesses and thrive,” said Monique Carswell, director, Center for Racial Equity. “Our support to the Mississippi Center for Justice’s Heirs’ Property Project is a key part of our aim to help Black businesses in retail grow and build wealth for their families and communities.”

“We deeply appreciate Walmart for their grant to support and grow our heirs’ property work. MCJ strives to create a Mississippi where everyone can succeed. With this additional funding, we can help ensure that more underserved families can build a foundation for generations to come,” said Vangela M. Wade, president and CEO of the Mississippi Center for Justice.

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