‘Shares’ or wages — some black workers had choice

“The vast majority of black Southerners worked as tenants (renters), sharecroppers, or wage hands. Even within the same place, however, different arrangements were possible.

“As early as 1867, a North Carolina planter reported that most of his workers labored for a share of the crop, ‘but I also have about 15 good men at wages.’ On some plantations, workers insisted on working for pay; on others they insisted on shares. ‘I am no hireling, Sir,’ a North Carolina laborer responded in 1874 to the request he work for wages rather than ‘halves.’ ”

— From “Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow” by Leon F. Litwack (2010)


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