Newswire: Federation of Southern Cooperatives to hold 55th Annual Meeting; Rev. Bernard Lafayette to receive Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement Award



Dr. Bernard Lafayette

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund will hold its 55th Annual Meeting this week, August 18 -20, 2022. The meeting begins with the Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime achievement Award Dinner on Thursday, August 18, 2022 at the Hyatt Galleria Hotel in Birmingham. The next two days will be held at the Federation’s Rural Training and Research Center near Epes, Alabama.

On Friday beginning at 10:00 a.m. at Epes there will be a panel on the resources of the United States Department of Agriculture available to family farmers and rural residents. There will also be tours on the Federation’s Rural Training and Research Center. On Saturday, August 20, there will be a Prayer Breakfast at 7:30 AM followed by the Federation’s business meeting for representatives from cooperatives and credit unions.

The Federation/Land Assistance Fund is a membership-based organization that assists limited resource farmers, landowners, and cooperatives across the Southern region with business planning, debt restructuring, marketing expertise, and a whole range of other services to ensure the retention of black-owned land and cooperatives as a tool for social and economic justice.

The Federation was founded in 1967 by twenty-two cooperatives and credit unions, affiliated with the Civil Rights Movement. It has grown over the past fifty-years to be the major voice for Black farmers and landowners in the South. It also is the primary advocate for equitable development in underserved, persistently poor rural counties across the Black Belt South.

The Federation is pleased to announce Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Jr. is this year’s recipient of the 21st Annual Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement Award.
It is an understatement to describe Dr. Lafayette as passionate about the philosophy and methodology of Kingian Nonviolence! He is a Civil Rights Movement activist, minister, educator, lecturer, and an authority on the strategy of Nonviolent Social Change. He has devoted his life to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s final 1968 marching orders, to “institutionalize and internationalize Nonviolence.

The Federation will present the Lifetime Achievement Award in memory of Estelle Witherspoon, whose dedication to the advancement of her community and to all humanity epitomizes the true spirit of community and cooperation on Thursday, August 18th at the Hyatt in Birmingham.

Born on July 29, 1940, and raised in Tampa, Florida to Bernard Lafayette, Sr., and Verdell Lafayette , Dr. Lafayette is the eldest of eight children. Dr. Bernard Lafayette Jr. is one of the unsung heroes of the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s.

Dr. Lafayette worked in many of the communities where the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund is active and helped pave the way for the cooperative economic development and land retention justice movement that the Federation continues working on to this day. 

Dr. Lafayette was a co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960, along with James Lawson, John Lewis, Diane Nash, and James Bevell in the Nashville Student Movement of the early 1960’s. He was involved in the Freedom Rides to desegregate interstate travel.

In 1962, he went to Selma to work with the Dallas County Voters League to develop the Selma Voting Rights Movement which resulted in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

He currently holds the position of Chairman of the Board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is now a faculty member at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama. He is also affiliated with the Center for Truth, Reconcilaition and Non-Violence in Selma, Alabama.

More information on the Federation’s Annual Meeting and the Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement Award is available at the website:


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