Farmers Stand Up: Tractorcade Protest of 1978-1979, by Henry Marks


From Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen:

When my grandson, Henry Marks told me that as a member of his 6th grade Honors Social Studies class he was competing in the National History Day Competition video project, I wondered what Henry’s history project would be. When 11-year-old Henry, who lives in Washington, DC, told me it was going to be the “1979 DC Tractorcade”, I was both surprised and proud.  Henry is not a farm kid, but his ag roots are deep.

Henry’s Great-Great-Great-Grandfather Julius Hansen hosted the Farmers Holiday meetings in the 1930’s in Newman Grove, Nebraska that spawned the “Penny Auction Sales” that used the power of organization to reduce the number of forced banker farm sales in the 1930’s at his farm equipment dealership store.

Henry’s Great-Great-Grandfather Carl, helped prevent the “company” takebacks of trucks and farm equipment in the Great Depression.

Henry’s Great-Grandfather Merle was a nationally known family farm activist and leader who shaped the national farm policy agenda to include economic and social justice to include family farmers and ranchers while serving as the ag advisor to Presidential candidate, Jessie Jackson in 1984 and 1988.  He was also a leader in the American Ag Movement in Nebraska, and the 1979 Tractorcade to Washington, DC.

I am Henry’s grandfather.  Along with Duane Eggers of Tilden, NE, I organized the last Tractorcade to Lincoln, our state Capitol in the late 197o’s.  It was a beautiful sight.  Governor J.J. Exon embraced our efforts and spoke to our farmers after riding from the State Capitol to the Devanney Sports Center on our lead tractor.  I am so proud of Grandson Henry for his good work on behalf of the families that grow our food and fiber.  Your family is proud of you Henry.  The arc of justice is indeed long, but you are right, it does bend towards justice.

Grandpa John Hansen

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