In the News: “The Great Land Robbery”, The Dispossession of Black Land Owners in the Mississippi Delta

The Atlantic, September Issue 2019

An article by Vann R. Newkirk II

The Great Land Robbery

“The shameful story of how 1 million black families have been ripped from their farms”


“In 1900, according to the historian James C. Cobb, black landowners in Tunica County outnumbered white ones three to one. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there were 25,000 black farm operators in 1910, an increase of almost 20 percent from 1900. Black farmland in Mississippi totaled 2.2 million acres in 1910—some 14 percent of all black-owned agricultural land in the country, and the most of any state.

“The foothold was never secure. From the beginning, even the most enterprising black landowners found themselves fighting a war of attrition, often fraught with legal obstacles that made passing title to future generations difficult. “

Continue reading…

NPR’s Meghna Chkarabari interviewed Vann R. Newkirk II about his piece in The Atlantic on On Point, Thursday, August 15, 2019. To listen to the interview and access additional resources on the history of African American land ownership in United States history, check out “In 100 Years, 1 Million Black Families Have Been Ripped From Their Farms“.


Photo by Tom Fisk on

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