race class and gender in rural america l.
Skip this Video
Loading SlideShow in 5 Seconds..
“Race, Class, and Gender in Rural America” PowerPoint Presentation
Download Presentation
“Race, Class, and Gender in Rural America”

Loading in 2 Seconds...

play fullscreen
1 / 19

“Race, Class, and Gender in Rural America” - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

“Race, Class, and Gender in Rural America” . Jan L. Flora Professor of Sociology and Extension Community Sociologist, ISU floraj@iastate.edu. What Factors Determined the Kind of Farming Systems that Emerged in the U.S. after the Civil War?.

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

PowerPoint Slideshow about '“Race, Class, and Gender in Rural America”' - kimo

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
race class and gender in rural america

“Race, Class, and Gender in Rural America”

Jan L. Flora

Professor of Sociology and Extension Community Sociologist, ISU


what factors determined the kind of farming systems that emerged in the u s after the civil war
What Factors Determined the Kind of Farming Systems that Emerged in the U.S. after the Civil War?
  • The difficulty in securing and managing an effective work force
  • High level of risk associated with farm production (commercial focus of farming)
  • These two factors may have been more important than the initial pattern of land tenure in determining the origins of different systems of farming production.
  • In all regions of the country, land ownership was initially very concentrated
three systems of farm production in the us and their labor sources
Three systems of farm production in the US and their labor sources:
  • Corporate farming in California
    • Intensive commercial production encouraged by irrigation works of early 1900s; importation of hired labor force
  • Sharecropping in the South
    • African slaves imported to work on plantations, which were both commercially and subsistence oriented; sickle cell gene was a protection against malaria
  • Family labor farming in the Midwest and Great Plains, and to a degree, in the Northeast.
    • Extensive grain and livestock agriculture favorable to family labor farms. Settlement of Great Plains and Midwest favored by northern European immigration and westward movement of settler population from Eastern U.S.
corporate farming in california
Corporate Farming in California:
  • Wage labor, workers do not own the means of production: Marx said "California is very important for me because nowhere has the upheaval most shamelessly caused by capitalist concentration taken place with such speed."
  • Diversified fruit and vegetable farming is very labor intensive; work force from China, Japan, the Philippines, and Mexico
  • Laborers only work seasonally, mainly at harvest time
  • Production is labor intensive; largest cost is labor.
immigrant labor force in u s agriculture
Immigrant Labor Force in U.S. Agriculture













1898 Spanish American War

1924 Immi-

gration Act


Filipino Independence

1885 Chinese Exclusion Act

Japanese Internment Camps









Bracero Program (P.L. 78), 1942-1965

1986 IRCA-Amnesty, H2A, & Penalties for Employers

slavery in the south
Slavery in the South
  • Native Americans of the Southeast were not a “reliable” labor force—Trail of Tears resulted.
  • Triangular trade--rum, slaves, and rice/cotton
  • Sickle cell gene made Africans more suitable as workers in malarial South
  • Culture developed with strict roles according to race, class, and gender.
  • Male and female slaves did farm labor.
before the civil war ended
Before the Civil War ended
  • Even before the Civil War was over, Congress enacted and President Lincoln signed a law that land that had been confiscated during the war would be returned to the heirs of the original owners.
  • In the South Carolina Sea Islands, of 16,000 acres offered for sale because of delinquent taxes in 1863, freedmen were able to pool money to buy only 2000 acres.
  • In early 1965, General Sherman agreed to reserve the tidewater area of Georgia for exclusive Negro settlement (“40 acres and a mule”). By June 40,000 freedmen had moved onto new farms in the area. Two months later, Pres. Andrew Johnson restored—sometimes at bayonet point—the land to its former owners.
andrew johnson s administration
Andrew Johnson’s administration
  • President Andrew Johnson vetoed laws to help African Americans
  • He allowed Southern states to re-enter the Union without guaranteeing equal rights to African Americans.
  • Various Southern states enacted “Black Codes”: In 1865, Mississippi made it illegal for freedmen to rent or lease farmland, allowed courts to assign black children under 18 to forced labor (“apprenticeships”), and provided for punishment for runaways.
  • Johnson was impeached, but was one vote from being convicted. He served out his term.
  • President Grant, who succeeded Andrew Johnson (1869-77), was more favorable to black rights in the South.
  • Blacks were elected to legislatures, to Congress, and two to the U.S. Senate.
  • Union troops enforced this political equality.
the end of reconstruction
The end of Reconstruction
  • Compromise of 1877—Rutherford Hays (Republican) beat Tilden by one electoral vote because three states voted for him in the electoral college when it was agreed that troops would be withdrawn and that Southern states would have a free hand in governing “their” Negroes.
  • The Southern Homestead Act was withdrawn, allowing speculators to buy up the 1/3 of land that was public in the states of the Deep South.
  • An alliance began to develop between northern capitalists and their junior Southern-capitalist partners.
  • Healing the wounds between whites of North and South was deemed more important than providing African Americans the opportunity to have a piece of the American dream. Could both have been accomplished?
sharecropping in the south
Sharecropping in the South:
  • When Blacks were freed after the Civil war they were promised land, but the failure of Reconstruction left them with only their labor.
  • Landowners needed a secure workforce to grow cotton. They felt there was no assurance that workers would show up at right time.
  • Vagrancy laws and “false pretense” laws used to keep Black sharecroppers tied to the land.
  • Lynching and other forms of violence also kept Blacks in their place.
  • Mississippi passed a law making it illegal for blacks to vote. Poll taxes.
  • Norms of ‘white womanhood’ kept women and African-Americans in their place. “Rosewood” as an example.
  • Sundowner ordinances in Iowa.
sharing risk with sharecroppers
“Sharing” Risk with Sharecroppers:
  • Share of crop went to ‘cropper; also shared in paying for inputs.
  • Plantation owners shifted crop liens to ‘croppers. Sharecropping based on crop lien form of credit (sharecroppers received groceries, seed, fertilizer, implements, etc., on loan) then at the end of the year the value of these “commodities” was deducted from income from their share of the harvest.
  • This system was abused by the landowners who also owned the stores and therefore kept the ‘croppers in constant debt.
demise of the sharecropping system
Demise of the Sharecropping System
  • Demand for African American workers in Northern factories during WWI and WWII: The Great Migration
  • Boll weevil infestation beginning in 1929; exhausting of the soil from growing cotton
  • During WWII, mechanization of Southern agriculture due to labor shortage; advent of the mechanical cotton picker; diversification of crops in post WWII period; advent of family labor farm, but plantation legacy is still there too.
  • Rural Southern African Americans left in the lurch—Ag employment dried up; legacy of segregation still present.
black land loss
Black Land Loss
  • In 1920, 1 in every 7 farmers was Black.
  • In 1982, 1 in every 67 farmers was Black.
  • In 1910, black farmers owned 15.6 million acres of farmland nationally.
  • In 1982, Black farmers owned 3.1 million acres of farmland nationally.
  • Between 1920 and 1992 the number of Black farmers in the U.S. declined from 925,710 to 18,816 or by 98%.
  • In 1984 and 1985, the USDA lent $1.3 billion to farmers nationwide to buy land. Of the almost 16,000 farmers who received those funds, only 209 were Black.
  • Almost half of all black-operated farms are < 50 acres.
  • In the late 1980's, there were less than 200 African-American farmers in the United States under 25.
  • In 1996, 0.5 percent of 1.31 million farmers were Black.
family farming on the great plains
Family Farming on the Great Plains:
  • Only 1/8 of public lands in the Great Plains was distributed to farmers through the Homestead Act of 1862; the rest was sold mainly to corporations and speculators!
  • Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862, LGUs established by selling off the large tracts of land
  • The railroads acquired enormous landholdings from the government in return for building the transportation infrastructure
  • Corporate farming did not take hold in the Great Plains because of great difference between production time and labor time.
  • The railroads recruited N. European immigrants to buy and farm the land, who in turn grew their own labor force.
farm labor trends wwii to present
Farm Labor Trends: WWII to present
  • Increasing returns to capital; diminishing returns to labor.
    • California—End of Bracero Program and IRCA (1986). Power of Corporate Ag and failure of UFW. Today vast majority of farm workers (Mexican and Central American) are undocumented.
    • Midwest—Industrial agriculture given push by Farm Crisis of 1980s/ ethanol crisis of 2010s? Beginning in 1990s, immigrant Latinos employed in packing plants and later CAFOs
    • South-Demise of Black Farmers; Latino industrial workers in processing plants and as farm laborers.
  • Discuss the social, ethical, and legal issues behind the question of whether blacks, at the end of the Civil War, should have been given land that had previously belonged to planters.
  • How does the land issue after the Civil War relate to the recent suit of black farmers against the USDA?


Flora, Jan L., and Cornelia B. Flora. “Race, Gender and Class in Rural America.” Pp. 369-383 in Jean Ait Belkhir and Bernice McNair Barnett, with Anna Karpathakis, Eds. Introduction to Sociology: A Race, Gender and Class Perspective. Race, Gender and Class Book Series. New Orleans: Southern University, 1999.

Pfeffer, M. 1983. “Social origins of three systems of farm production in the United States.” Rural Sociology 48(4): 540-562.

Howard Zinn, “Slavery without Submission, Emancipation without Freedom, ” in his A People’s History of the United States, pp. 196-210.