Chapter

“You Will Be Poor and Ignorant and Your Children Will Be the Same”: The Boll Weevil Myth Transformed

in Boll Weevil Blues

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780226292878
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226292854 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226292854.003.0006
“You Will Be Poor and Ignorant and Your Children Will Be the Same”: The Boll Weevil Myth Transformed

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This chapter addresses the transformation of the boll weevil myth. The moment of diversification's failure in Enterprise indicated a shift in the boll weevil myth, which began to change from a promise that the boll weevil would end cotton culture to an explanation for the continuing demise of southern rural life. Statistics revealed that cotton remained a better profit maker than peanuts for Coffee County growers most years, though as farmers gained more experience with the nuts, the gap decreased. Diversification's failure in Alabama was swift and profoundly revealing. Though high cotton prices had been an initial impetus for farmers to stop their peanut and hog production, the failure of the link between farmers and the extension service, and particularly the role racism played therein, contributed to the long-term death of the diversification dream.

Keywords: boll weevil myth; diversification; Enterprise; cotton; peanuts; Coffee County; Alabama; racism

Chapter.  5752 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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