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Steven J. Niven

paramilitary leader and agrarian activist, was born of unknown parentage, perhaps in Mississippi. He appears in the historical record on two occasions. The first was in the bloody political conflict known as the “campaign of 1875,” when white Democrats used tactics ranging from fraud to intimidation to violence and assassinations to wrest control of state government from the Republican Party.

In early September 1875, Cromwell traveled to the town of Clinton in Hinds County, Mississippi, to address a gathering of at least six hundred black men—some sources claim there were more than a thousand—who had organized into armed, paramilitary political clubs to defend their families, the black community, and the few remaining white Republicans against violent intimidation by white Democrats and their allies. Like other communities in the central part of the Magnolia State, a slight majority of citizens in Clinton were African American. Black Clintonians, notably Charles ...

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Donna Tyler Hollie

entrepreneur, labor leader, and political and social activist, was born free in Baltimore, Maryland, to John and Chaney Locks. It is likely that he attended one of Baltimore's private schools for African Americans, and at the age of eighteen he began a three-year apprenticeship with a carpenter. In 1842 Locks s father died and willed him a house and a $900 account in the Savings Bank of Baltimore Using his training to obtain employment and his inheritance to finance a variety of business ventures Locks achieved an unusual degree of economic stability and prosperity for a free black man in a slave society He worked as a carpenter and a caulker and was promoted to foreman at a white owned shipyard With his funds saved in the Freedmen s Bank after the Civil War Locks began his most profitable enterprise a livery and hacking business ...

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Charles Rosenberg

organizer and lecturer for the Colored Farmers Alliance, farmer and author, owner of eight patents for agricultural implements, and U.S. congressman from South Carolina (1893–1897), was born in Sumter County, South Carolina, to enslaved parents whose names have never been established and who died before 1865. Murray took up farming during his teen years after the Civil War and by 1880 had acquired his own land: forty-nine acres tilled and fifteen acres of woodland, worth about $1500 including buildings and improvements, producing income of around $650 a year.

He made several attempts to obtain an education. Applying to a local school in 1871, he was instead appointed teacher. Classes were held three to four months a year. Even when school was in session, he worked his fields in the morning and evenings. In 1874 he entered the University of South Carolina temporarily filled with students ...