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August 28, 2011


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As for looking for evidence of willing individuals in Jim Crow times -- you might want to look in the Delta counties more than Jackson. A few years ago I was at the deposition of an old African American man in the Delta (maybe Greenville) and I was absolutely shocked when, as he was going through his work history he said at one point he was "sold" to Mr. X. This would have been in the 40s probably. I don' t know if he was actually sold or if this was just the terminology used but I found it strange that he would say that.

Alfred Brophy

Thanks, dec, for the suggestion. Sounds like an excellent place to start. I, too, am shocked by your story.

Bill Turnier

References to being "sold" could be made with respect to tenant farmers who became quasi serfs in much of the South. Some states had laws that made it very difficult to recruit laborers for movement within or outside the state. Either Alabama or Mississippi had a law that required a person transporting laborers through the state to pay a fee for each county through which the laborer was transported. These laws were even in effect during WWII and resulted in an oversupply of agricultural labor in the South so that agricultural laborers in the South averaged about only 180 days of work in WWII. Given such an environment, it would make sense that a tenant farmer may regard himself as "sold" when the land he worked was sold. This is another great example of selfish greed rising above national interests in a war. Unfortunately, it is not even close to being unique.

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