‘The Hill with April Ryan’ talks count of Black farmers, Justice Jackson’s meeting with young admirer

Catch an all-new episode of “The Hill with April Ryan” every Thursday on theGrio.com and theGrio’s social media platforms.

On this week’s edition of “The Hill with April Ryan,” theGrio’s Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent, April D. Ryan, discusses the latest on attempts to prevent a government shutdown. 

Shawyn Patterson-Howard, mayor of Mount Vernon, New York, and chair of the African American Mayors Association, tells Ryan she believes the pending deadline to fund the government, Nov. 17, will ultimately collide with – and be overshadowed by – this year’s elections on Nov. 7. 

The U.S. Capitol Building is seen on Jan. 19, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Patterson-Howard says a shutdown would have devastating impacts on all, but particularly for Black communities in inner cities.

This week’s “The Hill” also dives into calls for Congress to reauthorize funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which subsidizes high-speed internet for low-income rural residents. 

The federal government provides up to $30 for eligible American households, something public policy strategist Barbara Williams-Skinner tells theGrio could be “the difference [for] a doctor’s visit online.” Skinner said internet access is crucial for a range of things for Black Americans, like employment opportunities, church services, and even accessing information online for voting.

As we talk of rural America, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will conduct an official count of the number of Black farmers in the United States early next year. The population of Black farmers dropped drastically since the turn of the century when there were over a million of them. 

Glenn Morris harvests corn on Oct. 11, 2021 in Princeton, Indiana. Morris is one of two full-time Black farmers who still farm in Lyles Station, a region of Indiana once dominated by Black farmers. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack acknowledged the Black farmers count five years ago determined there were about 50,000 Black farmers in America. 

“There has certainly been a diminishment of Black farmers,” said Vilsack, who added that the overall number of farmers more broadly has also taken a hit. The secretary said decades ago, there were about 25 million agrarians who made farming their life’s work. Today, that number has dropped to 2 million.

“The Hill” also highlights a special moment between a little girl and Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. The young girl, Marley Rice, dressed up like the court’s first Black female justice, wearing a Black robe and white lace collar when she met her. 

For many, the special moment resembled the famous White House photograph of then-President Barack Obama and a little Black boy rubbing his head to make sure his hair was real – just like America’s first Black president. 

Catch an all-new episode of “The Hill with April Ryan” every Thursday on theGrio.com and theGrio’s social media platforms.

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