Chapter

Land Ownership and the Color Line: African American Farmers in the Heartland, 1870s–1920s

Debra A. Reid

in Beyond Forty Acres and a Mule

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780813039862
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813043777 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813039862.003.0008
Land Ownership and the Color Line: African American Farmers in the Heartland, 1870s–1920s

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Debra A. Reid addresses the tensions that emerged in a border area where North met South, rural met urban, and ethnic met American. She considers the ways that urban markets and ethnic diversity created different dynamics that African Americans negotiated to try to cross the color line that kept them landless in the post-Reconstruction Midwest. Farmers near the city raised wheat, cut cordwood, and raised hogs, as did many of their neighbors. Such economic diversity kept the families busy and mobile across race boundaries. They interacted at market, worried about crop and stock prices, and helped one another as need arose. Yet black landowning farmers and their white peers remained ideologically separate and sometimes geographically separate, with black farm families confined to black settlements. This undermined the potential that a biracial class alliance might have offered prior to the Great Depression.

Keywords: Midwest; black settlements; urban; rural; color line; wheat; hogs; market; biracial; diversity

Chapter.  10215 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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