AP Documents Land Taken From Blacks Through Trickery, Violence and Murder
By TODD LEWAN
and DOLORES BARCLAY
Associated Press Writers
Henry Espy on his land in Vero Beach, Fla., before it was taken by the federal government
AP [16K]For generations, black families passed down the tales in uneasy whispers: ''They stole our land.''
These were family secrets shared after the children fell asleep, after neighbors turned down the lamps - old stories locked in fear and shame.
Some of those whispered bits of oral history, it turns out, are true.
In an 18-month investigation, The Associated Press documented a pattern in which black Americans were cheated out of their land or driven from it through intimidation, violence and even murder.
In some cases, government officials approved the land takings; in others, they took part in them. The earliest occurred before the Civil War; others are being litigated today.
Some of the land taken from black families has become a country club in Virginia, oil fields in Mississippi, a major-league baseball spring training facility in Florida.
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