February Is Black History Month USA: "Whites' Accounts of the Origins of Sharecropping Never Mention the Never-Realised Idea of Giving the Ex-Slaves 40 Acres and a Mule for Each Family." Now It's the South of USA That Is Attracting Young Black Professionals and College Students

By Orakwue, Stella | New African, February 2006 | Go to article overview

February Is Black History Month USA: "Whites' Accounts of the Origins of Sharecropping Never Mention the Never-Realised Idea of Giving the Ex-Slaves 40 Acres and a Mule for Each Family." Now It's the South of USA That Is Attracting Young Black Professionals and College Students


Orakwue, Stella, New African


"You can't have your cake and eat it, too." I've never understood that saying. It's peculiar. You've probably gone and bought your fancy cake, paid good money; or even baked it yourself: laborious, hard labour, no easy, instant mixes. The least you can do is jolly well enjoy it yourself. It's a silly saying that I'm probably too blind or stupid to comprehend. But perhaps the best cakes, the most glorious cakes, have to be cut up and dished out.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

You know what, that's exactly how I feel about marvellous information contained in marvellous books. Marvellous books are like fabulous cakes: crying to be sliced up and handed out.

The other week I read a newspaper article in which a demographer called William H. Frey, at the University of Michigan in the United States, revealed that since 1990 the southern states of America had added 807,442 black people to their populations. These newcomer African-Americans had migrated from other parts of America, particularly from northern cities, looking for better jobs and better living conditions in "the new South".

According to Dr Frey's research, northern cities like New York, Detroit, and Chicago were no longer on a 25-city list of the fastest growing metropolitan areas for African-Americans. It's the south that is now attracting young black professionals and college students.

Well, I thought, I've certainly got a cake I fancy gobbling up again. So for February Black History Month in the United States, I'm sharing some scene-setting slices from Nicholas Lemann's delicious The Promised Land--The Great Black Migration And How It Changed America [1991, MacMillan London Limited]. Get a fork, if not, use your hand.

"Three or four miles south of the town of Clarksdale, Mississippi, there is a shambling little hog farm on the side of the highway ... Behind the fence, by the bank of a creek, under a droopy cottonwood tree, is an old rusted-out machine that appears to have found its final resting place. The old machine, now part of a hoary Southern set-piece, is actually important. It is the last tangible remnant of a great event in Clarksdale: the day of the first public demonstration of a working production-ready model of the mechanical cotton picker, October 2, 1944.

"The pickers, painted bright red, drove down the white rows of cotton. Each one had mounted in front a row of spindles, looking like a wide mouth, full of metal teeth, that had been turned vertically. The spindles, about the size of human fingers, rotated in a way that stripped the cotton from the plants; then a vacuum pulled it up a tube and into the big wire basket that was mounted on top of the picker. In an hour, a good field hand could pick twenty pounds of cotton; each mechanical picker, in an hour, picked as much as a thousand pounds--two bales.

"The issue of the labour supply in cotton planting may not sound like one of the grand themes in American history, but it is, because it is really the issue of race. Now, suddenly, cotton planters no longer needed large numbers of black people to pick their cotton, and inevitably the nature of black society and of race relations was going to have to change.

"In 1940, 77% of black Americans still lived in the South--49% in the rural South. The invention of the cotton picker was crucial to the great migration by blacks from the Southern countryside to the cities of the South, the West, and the North.

"Between 1910 and 1970, six and a half million black Americans moved from the South to the North; five million of them moved after 1940, during the time of the mechanisation of cotton farming.

"The black migration was one of the largest and most rapid mass internal movements of people in history--perhaps the greatest not caused by the immediate threat of execution or starvation. In sheer numbers it outranks the migration of any other ethnic group--Italians or Irish or Jews or Poles--to this country.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

February Is Black History Month USA: "Whites' Accounts of the Origins of Sharecropping Never Mention the Never-Realised Idea of Giving the Ex-Slaves 40 Acres and a Mule for Each Family." Now It's the South of USA That Is Attracting Young Black Professionals and College Students
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.