HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - About 30 members of Huntsville's black community gathered Saturday to learn about a recent court ruling that could open the door to a billion dollars in federal loans.
Thomas Burrell, the president of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association of America, spoke at the Von Braun Center on an October 2017 order against the USDA.
Burrell's association brought a lawsuit against the USDA over racially discriminate lending practices against black farmers. The court denied a USDA motion to dismiss the case.
"They were summarily discriminated against, they were denied an opportunity to apply for a loan," said Burrell. He cited a 2013 letter which denied a black man federal aid based on his race. He was applying to a Hispanic claims resolution process.
Burrell said there was federal money set aside for Hispanic and other minority claims, but not for African-Americans.
"That letter was discriminatory on its face, and that it violated Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964," said Burrell. Title IV outlaws discrimination on federal aid disbursement.
The order does not rule on the lawsuit or prevent the USDA from continuing the alleged discriminatory practices. The lawsuit over the practices is still being litigated. However, Burrell said applications could be successful given the court order.
Burrell is traveling the south to raise awareness of the court case and increase the number of African-American applications for the federal farming loans.
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