Deep Roots: 'Ohio's Mixed-Race Farmers'
The black farmers and
Agriculturalists Association PBS' Homecoming
- black farmers ABC News - 60
Farmers and a Mule Sustaining Communities -
Ohio's black Farmers at the
Crossroads (.PDF file) Henry Robert Burke's
(African-American History) School of Visual Communication
Boone seeks - and finds -
diversity in Southeast Ohio
By Aaron Reincheld
When photojournalism graduate student
Regina Boone came to Ohio University in
the fall of 2001, something didn't feel right.
It wasn't that she was homesick.
Boone, who was then 32, had
spent three years teaching in
Japan and backpacking alone
across Asia, Africa and Europe.
But the Richmond, Va.,
native did feel isolated.
Having completed her undergraduate
degree at [an HIBMCU] in Atlanta,
Boone, herself African-American,
experienced culture shock in spite
of the rich history surrounding
the Athens region -- including
the Underground Railroad.
"Initially I was totally
shocked," Boone says.
"I was seeing very few ..
people-of-color outside of campus.
I wanted to find where [they]
were in the greater community
and what they were doing."
So Boone set out on a mission:
Find African-Americans ---
beyond the University's gates.
One day, she traveled to Gallipolis
for a celebration of the Emancipation
Proclamation, the document signed
by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 ...
Many African-Americans from Gallipolis and
surrounding regions attended the event.
"I felt relieved to see so many ..."
Boone says. "I no longer felt as lonely."
Her experience led her to
a wonderful friendship.
At the celebration, Boone met Bill
Howard from Bidwell, Ohio -- the
last "black" dairy farmer in the state.
She soon formed a close relationship
with Howard and his wife, Jackie.
During visits to their farm, Boone learned about
the current difficulties facing dairy farmers.
"I saw how the job is not only an occupation,
but also a lifestyle that has so many hardships
that come along with it," she says.
When assigned to complete a project for a
visual communications class, she thought
Bill Howard would make a captivating subject.
The motivation behind the photos
has different layers, and Boone
hopes people who view her work
will come away with a few messages.
Boone hopes to showcase the
region's cultural diversity.
"I would like others to realize there
is a community of Black people,
a community of Bi-Racial people and a
community of Multi-Racial people living
in Southeast Ohio, and that they are here
making a difference and have been here
for a very, very long time," Boone says.
"This area is not a homogeneous community.
I want people to recognize the diversity."
Boone also hopes people gain an
appreciation of farmers across the nation.
"I want people to realize how the life of
farming is such a sacrifice," she says.
"We should not forget our farmers -- especially
the few remaining black farmers who fought
hard for their land and, unfortunately, are
still fighting to survive on their land today."
is a graduate
Ohio University - Athens, Ohio 45701 - Tel: (740) 593-1000