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Preserving a Legacy: Opening of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund Records

by Courtney Tutt, Project Archivist

A group in front of the FSC sign at the Rural Training and Research Center (RTRC) in Epes, Alabama.
A group in front of the FSC sign at the Rural Training and Research Center (RTRC) in Epes, Alabama.

The Amistad Research Center is excited to announce the opening of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund (FSC/LAF) Records. For decades, this collection remained largely inaccessible due to its vast size and disheveled state. The FSC/LAF records were donated in 1988 with additional contributions received in 1991 and 2003, amounting to over 600 boxes. The historical significance of these records cannot be overstated, as they shed light on the crucial role that the FSC/LAF played in African American and southern U.S. history.

In the heart of the American South, where a legacy of racial discrimination and economic disparities once plagued communities, a beacon of hope emerged in the form of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund (FSC/LAF). Established in 1967, this nonprofit organization has diligently worked to empower African American farmers, landowners, and rural communities throughout the southern United States.

The FSC/LAF was born out of the civil rights movement during a time when African American farmers and landowners faced systematic discrimination and exploitation. Recognizing the pressing need for collective action, a group of visionary leaders came together to form the FSC/LAF. Their mission was twofold: to assist small farmers in securing land ownership and to promote cooperative economic development and sustainable agricultural practices.

One of the fundamental goals of the FSC/LAF has been to assist African American farmers in obtaining and maintaining land ownership. Historically, these farmers were often denied access to land, loans, and other resources necessary to thrive in the agricultural industry. Through various legal and financial assistance programs, the FSC/LAF has helped thousands of farmers overcome these obstacles and secure their rightful place in the agricultural landscape.

In addition to advocating for land ownership, FSC/LAF has been instrumental in promoting cooperative businesses and economic self-sufficiency. By encouraging cooperative models, the organization fosters a sense of community, unity, and shared prosperity among its members. These cooperatives allow farmers to pool their resources, access markets, and negotiate better prices for their produce, leading to improved income and sustainability.

Over the years, the FSC/LAF has touched the lives of countless individuals and communities across the southern states. By assisting farmers in obtaining land, supporting cooperative ventures, and promoting sustainable agriculture, the organization has played a crucial role in reversing the historical injustices and fostering economic independence.

The FSC/LAF’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of collective action and the unwavering commitment to social and racial justice. For over five decades, this organization has stood as a symbol of hope and progress for African American farmers and rural communities in the American South. By promoting land ownership, sustainable agriculture, and cooperative development, the FSC/LAF has fostered self-reliance, resilience, and economic prosperity in areas long marginalized and overlooked.

By providing access to this collection, the Amistad Research Center enables researchers and scholars to delve into the rich history of the Southern cooperative movement, African American land ownership, and the development of rural cooperatives. The records offer a unique perspective on the struggles, resilience, and achievements of African American communities in the face of systemic challenges.

As interest in agricultural and land ownership history in the southern United States continues to grow, the FSC/LAF records will serve as an essential resource for those seeking to understand and analyze this critical aspect of American history. Preserving this legacy ensures that the contributions of the FSC/LAF are not forgotten but continue to inspire future generations.

National Endowment for the Humanities

This project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Humanities Collections and Reference Resources. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this blog post do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


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