Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Document Type


Publication Date



In 1915, African Americans in rural Texas observed communities in transition when they looked out the doors of their wood-frame houses. In that year approximately 72 percent of all blacks in the state, or 511,321 individuals, lived in rural areas. During the 1920s low commodity prices and high inflation combined to ruin many, but few left the land. Instead they rented land on the shares and struggled to earn enough of a living to keep families together. Yet the Great Depression intensified the poverty and forced many blacks to leave rural life behind. In addition, the violence and disfranchisement of the Jim Crow era, the race’s subjugation to the crop-lien system, and the birth of the “New Negro” in an urban environment hastened the decline of black communities in the South. Scholars tend to concentrate on these factors, thus presenting the rural African American as a victim of economic, political, and demographic change. Few consider the ways that rural blacks challenged these persistent trends.

Display as Peer Reviewed