BlackFacts Details

African-American history of agriculture in the United States

The role of African Americans in the agricultural history of the United States was extremely important, and given that the majority of blacks were employed in agriculture in the United States particularly during the 19th and early 20th century, represents a major part of their history and the economic progress of the nation.

Plantation owners brought mass supplies of slaves from Africa and the Caribbean and Mexico to farm the fields during cotton harvests.[1] Black women and children were also enslaved in the industry.[2] The growth of Slavery in the United States is closely tied to the expansion of plantation agriculture.

Cotton farming became a major area of racial conflict in the history of the United States, particularly during the nineteenth century. Southern black cotton farmers faced discrimination from the north, and many white Democrats were concerned about how many of them were being employed in the US cotton industry and the dramatic growth of black landowners.[3] [4] They urged white farmers in the south to take control of the industry, which from time to time resulted in strikes by black cotton pickers; for instance blacks led by the Colored Farmers Association (CFA) strikers from Memphis organized a strike in Lee County in 1891, which resulted in much violence.[2] Black cotton farmers were very important to entrepreneurs which emerged during industrialization in the United States, particularly Henry Ford.[5] The United States Emancipation Proclamation came into power on January 1, 1863, allowing a new journey for people of African ancestry to participate in the U.S. Agriculture Industry in a new way.[6]

The conditions for black cotton farmers gradually improved during the twentieth century. Ralph J. Bunche, an expert in Negro suffrage in the United States, observed in 1940 that many thousands of black cotton farmers each year now go to the polls, stand in line with their white neighbors, and mark their ballots independently without protest or intimidation, in order to determine government