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Fossil fuels and African Americans

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Fossil fuels and African Americans

By Harry C. Alford, NNPA Columnist

Recently, a writer from USA Today wanted to know if the National Black Chamber of Commerce receives money from fossil fuel companies (coal, oil, natural gas, petrochemicals, etc.).  That is a “no brainer.”  Of course we do – it is only natural.

The legacy of Blacks in this nation has been tied to the miraculous history of fossil fuel and the economic growth in communities because of the successful harvest of fossil fuels. Consistent with the emergence of the Industrial Revolution and the availability of the Homestead Act for freed slaves, fossil fuels have been our economic friend.

My family (both sides) and fossil fuels have been “hand and glove” since the late 1800s. It was during this time that my great grandfathers, who were freed slaves, were receiving land grants through the Homestead Act. They were coming in 160 acre sections. As we received the land and started to farm it, oil companies and other related industries would approach and offer to buy mineral rights that would be on the land.

As kids, I, my brother and the countless amounts of cousins didn’t actually know what was going on but one thing was certainly clear. Fossil fuels companies were natural allies to our family members. I can reflect on hoeing cotton, picking cotton, collecting the apples for harvest time and walking around an active natural gas well or an oil rig right amongst the crops. As our parents grew old and retired, the land would be assigned to us and then we got into the business side of things.

The last activity my brother and I had on our 45 acres was a few years ago. We leased it to a Wyoming company that performed “fracking” on the land. The revenue was sweet. My brother bought a new fishing boat and Kay and I bought a Lexus. We can’t wait for the next cycle. If we become lucky like some of my cousins who have actually struck oil/gas, we can enjoy monthly revenue checks. I have one cousin who has been receiving $12,000 in monthly royalties for about the last 15 years. The partnership we have with fossil fuel companies is a very productive one.

Now, the environmental activists hate this cozy, productive relationship we have with the fossil fuel corporations. Besides revenue sharing, these companies are the number one employer of Blacks in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama and throughout the rest of the nation. What certain wealthy groups are trying to do is poison the historical relationship we have. They want to brainwash those of us in poverty who do not understand the historical and productive relationship we have with fossil fuel companies. They claim that fossil fuel companies want to poison our neighborhoods, kill our land and bring illness to our communities. That is bunk!

They want to use us who are living under the poverty level as “battering rams” to stop future growth and manufacturing. That future growth and manufacturing amounts to jobs for us and a productive, economic future. They want to “kill coal.” That isn’t going to happen. God put coal here for us to make steel, iron and produce energy for power. We shall use it, as we have at least a million year inventory. They must not be allowed to close down our power plants. The number one employer in my home county of Ventura, Calif. is “Uncle Ed.”

Many of the guys I grew up with are now retiring from Uncle Ed. They have their retirement plans and have kept the land back home. Their children and grandchildren will have family wealth to inherit and we owe much to fossil fuel companies.

Let’s export as much fossil fuel as we can – the world is so hungry for it. That is pure profit for us. May fracking rock from coast to coast and border to border. The Keystone Pipeline should become a stable force of energy and high paying jobs. Kill coal?  Never! Coal is king and may it live forever. Our air is becoming cleaner due to new technology and there is no need to end our coal activity.

The American economy is insured as long as we utilize our resources prudently. Jobs will grow and personal wealth will build. I wish for more wells and rigs on our family property. I am wishing and our children are praying.

So, to the question of “Does the National Black Chamber of Commerce partner with fossil fuel companies?

Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®.  Website:  Email:

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    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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