“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)
“In [a ‘Voices of the White South’ article in Life magazine in 1956] a 38-year-old white sharecropper in North Carolina summed up his support of segregation and his views on his black neighbors and fellow farmers this way:
“ ‘We’re working to own our farm. We want to hurry up and get someplace. But they just don’t work. They just don’t care. All they’re looking for is the end of the week when the landlord will shoot ‘em a little money. [T]hey take a bath once a month, and their fields don’t look like they’s hardly tending them.’ At the same time, according to LIFE, the sharecropper’s approval of segregation was ‘based as much, or more, on personal pride than notions of color. He would rather have a Negro living next door than he would a white “redneck” or “peckerwood.” In his view, “there’s nothing sorrier than a sorry white man.” ‘
“The white sharecropper’s wife, LIFE wrote, ‘also approves of segregation and will not let her 9-year-old daughter play with an 8-year-old Negro neighbor. This is the reason she gives: “If our landlord came down here and saw her playing with a colored boy, he wouldn’t respect us. Only poor class whites do that. We’re trying to keep our self-respect and keep the highest level socially we can. We’re willing to work with the Negroes, but that’s as far as we’ll go.” ‘”
— From “LIFE and Civil Rights” at life.time.com