There’s a stand of pine trees on a plantation in South Georgia that always gives Shirley Sherrod pause. “It’s an area where I always feel the presence of slaves, when I come. And I just wonder what happened here.”
It’s not just an idle wondering. Shirley is, herself, the descendent of slaves—and she is also, along with her organization, New Communities, Inc., the owner of this plantation. How did a 68-year-old black woman come to own a Southern plantation? That taps into a much larger story of farming and race, one that involves the loss of millions of acres of black-owned farmland, and how the USDA was complicit in that loss. But also: some surprising moments of triumph. On the new episode of Gravy, one woman’s epic life story of agriculture and racism.