The Heritage Hemp Trail and the Kentucky Hemp Heritage Alliance (KHHA) would like to make a statement in regard to the recent events that have shed light on the deeply disturbing realities of institutional racism and systemic racial oppression that continues to plague our nation.
We are devastated for the families whose loved ones had their lives taken unjustly due to police misconduct. We're aching for black communities and those who feel unsafe because of these horrendous acts and subsequent attacks. We are heartbroken for our country which continues to experience the systemic impact of slavery due to years of suppression and lack of reparation. We support Black Lives Matter and the protests that are taking place around the globe to demand racial equality.
We stand in solidarity with you.
As preservers and promoters of hemp history, the KHHA recognizes all aspects of the industry's past which are heavily intertwined with slavery and black culture. In his book, "A History of the Hemp Industry in Kentucky," James F. Hopkins even suggests that without hemp, slavery might not have flourished in Kentucky.
On the farm, the crops were grown by the enslaved, tended to and harvested by the enslaved, shocked and broken by the enslaved, and in the factories, further processed into rope and bagging by the enslaved. Even after the Civil War until WWII, hemp labor was done primarily by African American males who were well-accustomed to the work.
Hemp history is black history.
Understanding the past is how we ensure a better future. We talk about this history to acknowledge, empathize, and empower. According to the USDA Agriculture Census, Black farmers make up less than 2 percent of all farmers in the country, owning just 0.4 percent of all U.S. farmland. In Kentucky, Black farmers represent just 1.4% of primary farm operators, accounting for less than 600 of the 76,000+ agricultural operations across the state. Yet, our state and national economy was built on the backs of Black farmers and laborers.
The KHHA is committed to sharing hemp history in an effort to educate Americans on the travesties of our past, while inspiring Black Americans to retrace and embrace their agri-cultural roots. We are proud to be partnered with several of our historic affiliates and organizations, such as Black Soil: Our Better Nature, Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate, Hopewell Museum/Historic Paris-Bourbon County, and Farmington Historic Plantation on initiatives which aim to highlight the integral role of African Americans within the hemp industry.
Please consider supporting Black Soil: Our Better Nature whose mission is to reconnect black Kentuckians to their legacy and heritage in agriculture.
Black [hemp] History Program at the Hopewell Museum in Paris, Kentucky hosted by the KHHA on February 16, 2020.