Sharecropping : A New Form Of Slavery

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Sharecropping is often cited as one of the major Push Factors of the Great Migration. It aligned incentives to ensure that the tenant would not be able to pursue other opportunities. The system allowed the tenant to harvest a piece of land while giving up a portion to the landlord. The landlords would often exploit the agreement and after expenses, leave the tenant with a paucity of money. Essentially a new form of slavery, Blacks became tied to this work as unmechanized cotton-picking is extremely labor intensive. In 1930, it is estimated that over 8 and a half million people lived under sharecropping conditions in the top ten cotton producing states. (Lemann 1991:11) Life became exceeding hard for African-Americans bolted to the…show more content…
(Lemann 1991:70) Migrants moved out west to California, up the East coast, but most migrants from the Mississippi Delta moved straight north to Chicago—and the Blues moved with them. By then sharecropping and plantation living were unsustainable ways of living carried out by various “push” factors. The mechanized cotton picker could field an acre of cotton in about 16% of the man hours. The Boll Weevil beetle (Anthonomus grandis) devastated the south’s dependence on cotton and created further economic struggles for African-Americans. While the southern economy struggled, that of Chicago boomed. WWII created droves of manual and manufacturing jobs which were open to newly settled African-Americans. “The stockyards were hopping during the war. The work was hard, but you could make lots of hours, and every year there was a raise; the stockyards were such a familiar part of the iconography of black Chicago in those years…” (Lemann 1991: 63) The themes of the Blues shifted with the change in economic standing of man Blacks. Themes of loss, hardship, and despair were replaced by those of sex, humor, and bravado despite a large, lingering dichotomy between whites and African-Americans. “Black America had been through an enormous change, namely the shifting of its base from the rural South to the urban North, and attitudes were just beginning the shift.” (Lemann 1991:99) Noted Blues harp blower, Matthew Skoller confirmed this trend as the Blues’ themes took a
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