This project was inspired by my grandparents, William “Boone” Dominique and Gertrude Dominique, and by the story of a farmer called Eddie Wise who lost his pig farm in 2016.
Boone and Gertrude lived and farmed in Loreauville, a small town in Iberia Parish, Louisiana. My grandparents farmed sugarcane, among other crops, and were able to successfully raise four daughters and ultimately pass their land on to their daughters. Our family tells stories about how Boone and his brother farmed cane using day laborers they picked up around Iberia and Lafayette parishes for long days in the fields while my grandmother did her share by raising the girls and cooking for the work crews.
My grandfather and I were equally awed by our respective work lives. After graduate school, and after I'd begun my career as a lawyer, every time I visited my grandparents Boone would ask “are you still working?” He was visibly proud each time I responded “yes, and with the same company.” Every time I asked Boone if he was still farming, he'd smile and say “yep, I'm still here.” This is how Still Here – African American Farmers in the 21st Century began.
You can hear Eddie Wise's story in a Reveal podcast called Losing Ground here.
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