After Slavery: The Effects of Sharecropping/Tenant Farming in Black Families in Alabama

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Dedej

Retired User
Joined
Mar 17, 2017
Yesterday, I visited Union Springs (Bullock County) to finally fill in some blanks on father's side, take pictures, visit my ancestors gravesites -- and just go and see how they lived. It was a humbling and sad experience.

What really made me sad - was to actually see how my father's side of the family was affected by Slavery and then ---- Sharecropping. Like many Blacks during that time - they didn't have anywhere to go - or couldn't afford to leave -- but mostly - was stuck in the mindset of thinking it was truly their home and loved the people that they once were enslaved too. They also didn't know anything but the farm/plantation and working the fields.

I have to admit - after seeing "R"on the Census for my 3Rd Grandfather all the way to my paternal Grandfather -- I wanted to know what "R" meant. I found out it was Sharecropping/Tenant Farming.

And now, after finding out what tenant farming was --- and seeing it's effects on many families in the south -- sharecropping IMO was unfair and unjust -- especially for Blacks in Alabama. As, sharecropping and tenant farming were the dominant economic model of Alabama agriculture from the late-19th century through the onset of World War II. But, it only benefited one side and left the workers in poverty - with no chance of betterment/advancement.

Of course, it was a different time, and I also know that not only Black people were sharecroppers -- but to see how his family and many others families in that area -- worked as sharecroppers/tenant farmers -- all their lives and was left with nothing. Even most of their graves sites didn't have a plot - just a slab of concrete.

To know, someone worked all their lives -- sure for a place to stay - but IMO it was not worth it - the living conditions were not the best - for the amount of work and time that was given to help others maintain/acquire wealth. Ownership of the land that 4 generations of my father's side worked on -- is still owned by the descendants of the original owners. They now have replaced cotton with selling Timber - while the families that worked on their land till their deaths are still in poverty.

All in all - it's all said and done - and there is nothing that can be done - as the past is the past. But, it now answers my question of --- why many if not all -- of my Alabama family members living conditions were so poor. I always wondered that - while visiting as a child.

I also understand why my father left at the age of 13 for a better life.
 
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