Losing Ground

July 26, 2017

For Eddie Wise, owning a hog farm was a lifelong dream. In middle age, he and his wife, Dorothy, finally got a farm of their own. But they say that over the next twenty-five years, the U.S. government discriminated against them because of their race, and finally drove them off the land. Their story, by John Biewen, was produced in collaboration with Reveal.

Photo: U.S. Marshals presenting eviction papers to Eddie Wise. Nash County, North Carolina, January 2016. Photograph by John Biewen.



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Dorothy and Eddie Wise at a black land-loss prevention conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, 2009. Photo by Elena Rue


Link to Five Farms, a 2009 Center for Documentary Studies documentary project featuring Eddie and Dorothy Wise and four other American farm families.

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10 comments on “Losing Ground

  1. Carol M. Jul 27, 2017

    Thank you for sharing this story.

  2. Cristina Collada Aug 22, 2017

    Very powerful and very appreciated. If only this information could be more broadly disseminated.

  3. Kathrine Lovell Nov 14, 2017

    This story is heartbreaking. How can anyone withstand the ridiculous bureaucratic hoops that Eddie and Dorothy were put through to save their farm? It is a nightmare.

    This whole series has made me really look at my whiteness. I am more aware than ever how much I have, because of my whiteness.

    This series of programs has changed my life. I cannot ever go back to being blind to my position in society.I wish everyone could listen and know.

    Thank you.

  4. This was interesting, thank you. I need to say however that the point of view wasn’t balanced.

    This couple takes out a $300,000.00 loan 25 years ago. Makes less than $9,000.00 in payments on that loan over a twenty year period (less than $38 a month), then stops making any payments at all for another five years and only then FmHA forecloses on them.

    If this is an example of discrimination, where can I signup?

    • I think you conveniently left out a little bit there didn’t you?

    • Shannon Jun 11, 2020

      So all those parts where they literally closed the loan books on them and other Black farmers, the class action lawsuit that proved systematic race-based discrimination that they were a party to (also nobody was even fired from FHA as a result, but promoted), the loan officer that not only refuses to help them with their loan plan, but lies and tells them their farm plan wasn’t approved when it was, and later somebody mysteriously goes back and manipulates the farm plan to say their sows will produce lower than average piglets so that the loan doesn’t get approved (which is a violation of FHA internal rules), and that this “strictness” was applied ONLY to to Black farmers, then they somehow are denied the legally available opportunity to keep at least their house and a little land and instead literally everything they own is seized by surprise at gunpoint, I guess none of that “is an example of discrimination?”

  5. Woodsplitter Jan 9, 2018

    Sadly I believe all that I have heard; What baffles me is that anyone white or black or yellow or green would intentionally stand in the way of anyone white or black or yellow or green being able to improve their life. It is simply un-Christian and this all happened in a region which claims to be deeply religious. In a sense I go back in history a long way to the days that the Constitution was written and the 4/5 th’s segment that was included by the Slave holding states. For John Roberts to declare that racism is history is ludicrous.

  6. Heartbreaking and sickening . No words…

  7. Came to this recently… for reference…

  8. jean frances Oct 31, 2020

    This is a heartbreaking story.