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John Boyd (above) is the kind of person that makes rural America like nowhere else in the world. The Washington Post has a front page profile of Boyd, a Virginia farmer who has been working eight and a half years to find some justice for nearly 70,000 black farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture discriminated for years against black farmers, denying them the programs and loans available to white farmers. Boyd was one of them. He lost his wife, family and nearly his farm when government officials literally tore up his loan application as he watched. Boyd joined a lawsuit against the federal government and, in 1999, he was among those black farmers who received a settlement from the USDA. But Boyd soon learned that 70,000 farmers didn’t know about the suit or the settlement.
Nearly 9 years ago, Boyd began lobbying Congress to offer compensation to those farmers, too. The Post follows John Boyd from his soybean farm in southern Virginia to the halls of Congress as he spends his time and money trying to find help for his fellow farmers. It is a story of uncommon will. (Be sure to watch the slide show.)
President Obama has included $1.25 billion in his budget for these farmers. Boyd figures that is only half of what’s needed to make these 70,000 whole. So Boyd leaves his farm — his broken tractor and hay that need baling — to drive to Washington, D.C. to talk to people who probably prefer that he just go away. What the Post story makes clear is that John Boyd isn’t going anywhere.