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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

10. Rhythms
in Poetry

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•  Using the Video
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Activities: Author Activities

Jean Toomer - Selected Archive Items

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[3696] Dorothea Lange, Plantation Overseer. Mississippi Delta, near Clarksdale, Mississippi (1936),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USF34-009596-C DLC].
White overseer and landowner with black workers. Sharecropping initially appealed to freedmen because it promised benefits they had previously been denied. However, most sharecroppers ended up working in conditions that weren't much better than slavery, while whites retained economic, social, and political power.

[4099] Anonymous, Tenants (c. 1880-1900),
courtesy of Duke University, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.
Photograph of African American tenant farmers or sharecroppers in the field. Although sharecropping gave African American families more control over their labor, it was rarely lucrative.

[5510] J. C. Coovert, White Cotton, Black Pickers and a Gin (1915),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-120480 DLC].
Cotton was an important but resource-taxing and labor-intensive southern crop. Although the Southern Agrarians romanticized agricultural life, work on cotton plantations was difficult and rarely lucrative for African Americans.

[7104] Marion Post Wolcott, Cut Sugarcane Being Carried to the Trucks for USSC (1939),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USF34-051089-E].
Photograph of a worker for the United States Sugar Corporation in Clewiston, Florida. African Americans labored in harsh conditions for many southern agricultural companies.

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