Generations of African Americans have influenced Arkansas economy

 Generations of African Americans have influenced Arkansas economy

Last Sunday, in celebration of Black Business month, I wrote about how at the end of the Civil War almost 120,000 enslaved Arkansans were suddenly expected to make their own way in an unfriendly economic world.

A few of the urban enslaved had been able to save enough money to purchase their freedom. Some even opened businesses. However, the great bulk of the new Black citizens soon fell into the clutches of sharecropping and tenant farming, the handmaidens of the crop-lien system.

With cotton prices declining during much of the 1880s and 1890s, huge numbers of both white and Black farmers fell into deep poverty. Historian Carl Moneyhon summarized the situation: “The lifestyle of the majority of African Americans was not appreciably different from that of lower-class whites. Both lived in a world of grinding poverty that virtually denied them a chance to get ahead, relegating them to an almost permanent place at the bottom of…

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