The African American intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois once wrote that “[t]he slave went free; stood for a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery.” Indeed, in the century between emancipation and such Civil Rights Movement victories as the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act of 1965, several factors conspired to keep former slaves in an inferior position in American society. Disfranchisement, discriminatory Jim Crow laws, segregated schools, and Lynching reinforced the political, legal, educational, and social inequality that African Americans faced. But the picture of racial injustice would not be complete without including economic factors—ranging from official and unofficial job discrimination to exclusion from white Labor Unions—that kept African Americans separate and unequal.
Chief among these unequal financial arrangements for rural Southern blacks was sharecropping Although the details varied throughout time and place sharecropping was and is in the ...
A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.