BA in History, University of Arkansas, 2014
MA in History, University of Arkansas, 2017
African American farmers
"On the Right Side of Radicalism: African American Farmers, Tuskegee Institute, and Agrarian Radicalism in the Alabama Black Belt, 1881–1940"
BiographyMy dissertation argues that as members of a primarily agrarian society, Black Americans in the US South after emancipation correctly understood landownership as the basis of freedom. The social capital that private landownership granted included economic independence, upward mobility, and political influence—key components of the “American dream.” At every step, though, white supremacy, poverty, and political disenfranchisement combined to ensnare potential Black farmers in sharecropping and tenancy. Incorporating concepts such as food power, household sovereignty, financial independence, and protection, “On the Right Side of Radicalism” systematically uncovers how private landownership had the potential to influence nearly every facet of Black rural life. Moreover, I uncover they ways African Americans pursued farm ownership and fought against the plantation agriculture system that dominated row-crop farming in the Black Belt region of Alabama from 1881–1940.
Using archival sources from the historical Tuskegee Institute, I point to strategic alliances that Black farmers both created and relied upon to obtain land. The title of the dissertation reflects the fact that although the agricultural outreach programs at Tuskegee threatened the viability of domineering systems of white supremacy in Alabama, the university avoided much of the negative attention garnered by organizations such as the Alabama Share Croppers' Union and Communist Party of the USA that did the same. This project seeks to answer how and why that happened.