Here’s why these black farmers are celebrating the historic sale of their lands

Abu Mubarik May 03, 2023
Bailey Station Association leader Thomas and other members of the group. Photo credit: commercial appeal

For nearly two centuries, a group of over 30 African American families owned and lived on a 48-acre land in Collierville, Tennessee. They purchased the land to cultivate crops and provide for their families, following the abolishment of slavery.

They banded together for 23 years to stave off a ruling of eminent domain and acquire a fair market value sale. Today, they are celebrating, having sold the land in a historic multi-million dollar deal. The family repeatedly shared how happy they are with the terms of the deal at a press conference and celebratory event attended by the town’s mayor and other local leaders.

Thomas Brown told Fox 13 Memphis that they were offered prices way below the market price or what they wanted. According to him, several companies offered them next to nothing in order to purchase the property.

This led to the formation of the Bailey Station Association aimed at ensuring that the land was valued fairly so that everyone involved would be content with the outcome, according to Action News.

Today, he says the patience of the farmers has paid off after the land was officially sold to Orgill Inc., a hardware distributor. The firm will use the land to construct a $77.2 million Customer Concept Center, which will be just a few miles away from headquarters, according to Black News.

A press statement published by EIN News paid a glorious tribute to the struggle that culminated in the historic sale of the land. The group was led by John “Bubba” Brown, a retired MLGW lineman. His brother, Thomas Brown, became the head of the group following his demise.

The two leaders are credited with leading the group with the assistance of a young estate attorney called Vanecia Belser Kimbrow. She learned about the plight of the group while watching a Saturday morning episode of WKNO’s “Small Business Review” and decided to reach out to Thomas Brown. She has represented the group for the past 23 years pro-bono.

“As their legal counsel, Attorney Kimbrow guided the group through the rough waters of a threatened public taking by the Town of Collierville during a time when public takings are all too common, and Cordova farmers had recently lost their land to make way for the Wolfchase Mall,” the statement said. 

“She was able to halt the public takeover in 2000 by having the individual farmers invest their land into a cooperative association. Throughout the years, various entities tried to purchase the land with offers that didn’t reflect its value, but the group and Attorney Kimbrow stood firm in their refusal to accept them. In April of 2023, Attorney Kimbrow finalized negotiations for a multi-million-dollar sale of the group’s 48 acres to Orgill, Inc.”

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: May 3, 2023

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