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Beyond Forty Acres and a MuleAfrican American Landowning Families since Reconstruction$
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Debra Reid and Evan Bennett

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780813039862

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813039862.001.0001

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Black Power in the Alabama Black Belt to the 1970s

Black Power in the Alabama Black Belt to the 1970s

(p.231) 10 Black Power in the Alabama Black Belt to the 1970s
Beyond Forty Acres and a Mule

Veronica L. Womack

University Press of Florida

Veronica L. Womack argues that white land control, an impoverished working class, and violent race relations resulted in a distinctive form of Black Power in Alabama. African Americans purchased land despite this, but Alabama still had the second lowest rate of black landownership among black farmers in the South in 1900. Most black farmers in the state operated farms on the cash-rent system. Sharecroppers likewise farmed, and they along with agricultural laborers suffered at the hands of merciless landlords. Sharecroppers and laborers briefly allied with the Communist Party during the 1930s and challenged the capitalist system that entrapped them in exploitive monoculture through participation in sharecropper unions. White supremacists responded with violence. These competing agendas between black landowners, cash- and share-rent tenants, and laborers created fertile ground for the emergence of militant Black Power and overtly separatist goals pursued by Black Muslims through the Nation of Islam in the aftermath of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Keywords:   Black Power, Alabama, tenant, sharecropper, laborers, union, monoculture, white supremacist, militant, Black Muslims

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