MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Thousands of black farmers could soon get compensated for a lawsuit that happened in 1999.
Black Farmers and Agriculturalists (BFAA) President Thomas Burrell and attorneys addressed a packed house Monday to announce a critical turning point in the case of Earnest Lee Boyland vs the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In 1999, the courts ruled that the USDA discriminated against black farmers when it came to granting loans, and a $5 billion settlement was announced.
However, thousands of farmers were unaware of a filing deadline or were denied compensation over the last few years for a variety reasons.
On Oct. 31, the US Court of Appeals decided it would review previous claims from the more than 15,000 people who were not included in the 1999 ruling.
"No citizen of these United States will ever again be subjected or denied opportunity. The guardians of the constitution spoke last Tuesday," Burrell said.
Boyland died 10 years ago but his daughters were applauded during the meeting.
"This should be our energy to march forward," Burrell said.
Members of the BFAA now want to meet with President Donald Trump regarding the appeal.
"We're asking him to affirm that," Burrell said.
Going forward, the organization hopes the courts will rule on the appeal in the next 60-90 days in favor of not only black farmers but other minorities.
"A lawsuit with Native Americans, a lawsuit with Hispanics, and again, the individuals who were denied the opportunity to participate should be able to receive their compensation as well," Burrell said.