Photographs by John Francis Ficara
Essay by Juan Williams

John Francis Ficara spent four years photographing black farmers across America, witnessing firsthand the difficulties faced by families who simply want to continue living and working on their land. Black Farmers in America reproduces in duotone over a hundred of Ficara’s exquisite photographs that capture the labor and joy of daily life on the family farm. In these poignant images of financial hardship, survival, and the people’s bond to the soil, Black Farmers in America documents for posterity the struggle of black farmers in America at the end of the twentieth century to preserve their heritage.

In 1920 black Americans made up 14 percent of all the farmers in the nation and worked 16 million acres of land. Today, battling the onslaught of globalization, changing technology, an aging workforce, racist lending policies, and even the U.S. Department of Agriculture, black farmers account for less than 1 percent of the nation's farmers and cultivate fewer than 3 million acres of farmland. Inside these statistics is a staggering story of human loss: when each farm closed, those farmers, their spouses, children, grandchildren, and the people they hired, all had to leave a way of life that had existed in their families for generations.

144 PAGES, 10 1/2 X 11 1/4
ISBN-13: 978-0-8131-2399-8

Available on Amazon

Book Reviews


Awarded AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers, for Outstanding Book Design/ One Hundred favorite books, 2006, Los Angeles Times.


  • Just as John Ficara captures poignant images of Black farmers, Juan Williams... complements these stunning images with enlightened, descriptive, and thoughtful narrative.

~(Lexington, KY) Key Newsjournal

  • Elegaic.... Makes it clear that something is being lost, that some tether to our agrarian roots will soon be severed.

~Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  • A powerful collection of images documenting the struggles of black farmers.

~Birmingham News

  • This book is not a nostalgic look at days gone by; it is a portrait of prideful black Americans whose hearts brim with determination, hope, strength, and a promise they aim to fulfill

~Black Issues Book Review

  • The photographs reflect a strength, pride, beauty, and endurance of a dying breed of African Americans.


  • Images of emotional faces and determined eyes of the black farmers who remain today evoke America's original sin

~Juan Williams, from the book

  • His photos show people fighting for, and all too often losing, what they know and love.

~Los Angles Times

  • The story of the black American farmer is told with tenderness and raw truth.

~Multicultural Review

  • Ficara's extraordinary photography captures what could easily be the last breath of a dying culture.... A magnificent celebration of resilient spirit in the face of astonishing odds.

~New York Resident

  • A carefully crafted and meticulously researched book.... Without question this volume adds much to our understanding of African American life in the United States from the enslavement period to today.

~Northern Kentucky Heritage

  •  A clearly written, well researched, and sharply focused work.

~Ohio Valley History

  • Ficara's approach... is honest and frank. He puts a face to those he sees as being under attack by the forces of history. His efforts, like the steadfast work of his subjects, hopefully are not doomed.


  • Ficara's photographs, well over 100, are solemn, restrained, dour. He has a story to tell, and he does it graphically.


  • Sometimes haunting, sometimes joyous.

~Richmond Times-Dispatch

  • Gorgeous.

~Washington Post

  • This eloquent book paints a picture of what is happening today to small, independent, black farmers.... I hope this is a documentary for black farmers of future generations, and not one about the fading of a way of life. Armchair Interviews says: Highly recommended.

~Armchair Interviews

  • "Rich and groundbreaking.... Ficara's images bear witness to the devastating impact of agribusiness on all small farmers, the intractability of racism in the USDA, and the aging of the farm population."

~Agricultural History