The slow massacre: East Phillips and North Desha Counties, Arkansas, then and now

Photo: Jennifer Haddock
Arkansas Review | December 2023

The slow massacre: East Phillips and North Desha Counties, Arkansas, then and now

by Jennifer Haddock

This article is based on a presentation given by Jennifer Haddock, a community organiser and member of TIAA Exposed, as part of the October 2023 webinar: How TIAA purchased a legacy of racism & murder

In 1919, Elaine, Arkansas Black landowners and sharecroppers rose up in protest against white buyers, who refused to pay a fair price for their crops. What followed the protest was the largest massacre of Black farmers, and one of the largest massacres of Black people, in US history.   
The white farmers took over the land and for over a century sold or handed it down to relatives or other white owners, and more recently to large agribusiness corporations. These companies are poisoning the land and water of the remaining Black farmers through the use of cancer-causing chemicals and through the burning of crop residues.
Two TIAA subsidiaries, Global Ag Properties and Premiere Ag Properties have purchased 50,000 of those historical acres. TIAA's ownership directly impacts the descendants who are seeking justice and reparations. Harmful chemicals and unsustainable farming practices contribute to the ongoing environmental and economic challenges faced by these families. TIAA’s activities today in this place perpetuate the same devastating cycle of injustice that began with the Elaine Massacre. The descendants continue to bear the brunt of this historical and contemporary tragedy, as their efforts to build sustainable livelihoods and organic farms are marred by environmental contamination and economic disparities. 

Download the full article:
The Slow Massacre

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