House Majority Whip James Clyburn on Wednesday blasted Sen. Lindsey Graham over his comments that aid to Black farmers in the Covid-19 relief bill are “reparations” and called for his fellow South Carolinian to get back in touch with Christianity.
“Lindsey Graham is from South Carolina. He knows South Carolina’s history. He knows what the state of South Carolina and this country has done to Black farmers in South Carolina. They didn’t do it to White farmers. We’re trying to rescue the lives and livelihoods of people. He ought to be ashamed of himself,” Clyburn told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day.” “I think you ought to go back and maybe go to church. Get in touch with his Christianity.”
The $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, which is expected to pass the House on Wednesday, will provide direct payments of up to 120% of a “socially disadvantaged” farmer or rancher’s outstanding debt as of Jan. 1, 2021. A socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher is anyone in a socially disadvantaged group, those who have been “subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities,” according to a House code.
During an interview on Fox News, Graham criticized the bill for including the provision and others that he argued are not related to the coronavirus pandemic. He also called the assistance to farmers “reparations,” a term referring to compensation to descendants of slaves.
“Let me give an example of something that really bothers me. In this bill, if you are a farmer, your loan will be forgiven up to 120% of your loan, not 100%, but 120%, if you’re socially disadvantaged, if you’re African-American, some other minority. But if you’re White person, if you are a White woman, no forgiveness. That’s reparations. What does that got to do with Covid?,” Graham said on “Sunday Morning Futures.”
Over the years, Black farmers have been driven off their land and have faced discrimination from the US Department of Agriculture. In 1920, the USDA counted 925,708 Black farmers, amounting to about 14% of all farmers at the time. There were only 45,508 Black farmers — roughly 1.3% of all US farmers — in the United States in 2017 according to the most recent USDA Census of Agriculture.
John Boyd Jr., founder and president of the National Black Farmers Association, slammed Graham’s comment during an interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar on Tuesday and accused the Republican of not wanting farmers of color to get justice.
“Here you have a group of people who barely can defend themselves and instead of these senators voting to support historic measure like this where I have been trying to get debt relief for Black farmers and other farmers of color over 30 years,” he told Keilar. “I never heard Senator Lindsey Graham speak out against discrimination, where I been spat on and called racial epithets and had my USDA applications torn up and thrown in the trash can. He knows about discrimination … I never heard him speak out against discrimination, but he doesn’t want us to get any justice here.”
CNN’s Danielle Wiener-Bronner contributed to this report.