One unhappy night in 1992, 40-year-old Timothy Pigford, a fourth-generation black farmer having a terrible time of it trying to grow soybeans in North Carolina, sat in the living room of the house he was barely holding on to and drew up the outline of a lawsuit against the federal government. It was a decision more than 15 years in coming, ever since the first of the many times he’d been denied a USDA loan because — he was convinced — of the color of his skin. Before all was said and done, he would spend 20 years of his life trying to convince government officials, members of Congress, judges, and even the president that the USDA had ruined him even as it had given similarly situated whites the credit and support they needed to thrive as farmers. He’d go bankrupt in the process — losing his farmland, his home, and the 1990 Toyota he would put 350,000 miles on traveling up I-95 to Washington to press his case — while his relationship with his wife and two teenage sons would be stressed to the breaking point. But eventually, he’d win.
Institution: National Review
Citation: Nat'l Review, Feb. 21, 2010