Mississippi, land of opportunity for blacks?

“During the last years of slavery, planters and slave traders transplanted tens of thousands of Negroes from the depleted fields of the upper Southeast to the newly cleared and fertile lower portions of Mississippi’s river counties. The advent of freedom did not end this population movement….

“In 1866, Jefferson Davis negotiated a shipment of such workers from Charlotte, North Carolina. Three years later the Raymond [Miss.] Gazette reported that Negroes in North Carolina were still seeking opportunities for settlement in the Mississippi Yazoo Delta.”

— From “The Evolution of the Mississippi Delta: From Exploited Labor and Mules to Mechanization and Agribusiness” by James Bell (2008)

“[In 1895] a black newspaperman found himself on a New Bern-bound train among several elderly black men and women who had just experienced six years of debt peonage in Mississippi.

“They had left North Carolina for the promise of a better life in the deep South, but they quickly disovered to their horror that ‘escape’ was the only way out of sharecropping ‘those bottoms.’ Even then ‘they will hunt you, catch you and bring you back and give you a good thrashing, just as they used to do in slavery times,’ said one sharecropper.”

— From “Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920″ by Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore (1996)


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