After spending the morning at the Billy Graham Library we decided to travel downtown to the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte, NC. This museum is dedicated to all the changes that Charlotte and the surrounding areas has made to reinvent it's self.
The after the Civil War the South was in a whirlpool of debt. As more cotton was grown, prices fell. It went from $.25 a pound in the 1860's to $.05 by 1890's. The land was also wearing out. This meant they would need more fertilizer. Some time cotton prices would go up just enough to get the farmers hopes up them plummet.
Average family income in 1932
- Black Sharecropper farmer in the South $126 per year
- White Sharecropper farmer in the South $352 per year
- All farmers in the US $2,302 per year
There was a popular song in the 1890's that said "$.05 cent cotton, $.40 cent meat - How in the world can a poor man eat?"
For the black sharecroppers the only thing he had of his own was the church. It was the only institution independent of white control. Holding an office in the church was and still is a big deal today. It means pride and a title of authority. For some of us we could care less about a church office as long as the Lord's work gets down.
Education has always been an issue for the South. In the 1900 less that 1/3 of South Carolina's kids were in school. Some of those kids attended classes for just 60 to 90 days. Black kids got even less.
Here is a fact that just blows me away.
- In 1915 North Carolina spent $7.40 per white kid
- Only $2.30 per black kid.
- The US average was nearly $30 per student
- Most class rooms were 1 room
- Teacher taught kids from 5-18 years old
- Classes were only 4 month long.
Talk about discrimination. Even back in reconstruction days, there were issues of arguing over if public schools are needed? There were many debates on this issue and if blacks really needed an education.
There was a book by Thomas Dixon called Clansman. The book created myths about how blacks, when freed would turn violent and savage. They would rape, commit crimes, rob or even murder the population. His book claim that the Klan was saving the country from Negro rule. This book was used as the bases for the silent move Birth of a Nation. I find this very interesting as most blacks could not even read or write their names. How could we take over?? Just brute strength?? That world would not last long. I guess Dixon would turn over in his grave if he could see who our current prez is. You go Obama.
Another interesting fact. When we toured Spain, we saw what we thought was KKK only in purple hoods. We thought what the heck they have them here to? Well, after some research and speaking with church people here is what we found out:
Spain is known especially for its Holy Week traditions of Semana Santa. The celebration of Holy Week regarding popular piety relays most exclusively in the processions of the brotherhoods or fraternities. These associations have their origins in the Middle Age. Membership is open to any Catholic person and family tradition is an important element to become a member of "brother". A common feature in Spain is the almost general usage of the nazareno or penitential robe in the processions. The garment consists of a tunic, a hood with conical top used to conceal the face of the wearer. The robes were widely used in medieval period for penitents, who could demonstrate their penance while still masking their identity. They care processional candles or rough hew wooden crosses.
It is interesting how something supposedly is good and others use it for bad.
Ok enough foreign history lets get back to the museum.
Have your ever heard of disenfranchisement?? Well most of us have not. So you are asking what is this? Please let us know. Well it means a depriving of the right to vote of a person or group. This ruling stripped most blacks Southerners of the right to vote, 2 decades after the end of Reconstruction. This is one of the issues the Civil Rights Movement was based on.
Cotton mills were big time in the South. In the 1900's mill owners finally stopped and thought about how much money they were losing because they were sending the bulk of their cotton north to be milled. They decided to manufacture their own goods. By 1920 the South passed New England as the main textile manufacturing region. Look at your towels. It probably says Cannon or Springhill.
There were also some changes on the farms. With the invent of new equipment, less labor was needed. During the 1930 Great Depression, the government paid the farmers to grow less. This helped the farmers but not the labors. They had to go other places. The whites moved into the cities and worked at the mills. Between 1920 -1950 3 million blacks fled the south because of the disfranchisement and poverty. They moved North. This was called the Great Migration. In 1950 the majority of people in the Carolina's lived in towns. Today only 1% live on a farm.
- There was a Laws called - An Act to Compel a Separation of Races Laboring in Textile Manufactories. It was for separation of employees of different races provided for equal accommodations. When did separate but equal ever work??
- Blacks start their own mills.
- In 1924 &1934 there were strikes against the mills.
- Mill owners wanted to be left alone by the government when it came to children working.
Even through all this the Carolinas still grew. Churches were growing in leaps and bounds.
Now anybody who has been in a black church will recognize these fans. You remember your grandmother, aunt and mother sitting in church fanning themselves. Only the grown ups could get one because they could not be destroyed by "little hands". We had to use are our Sabbath School lesson to fan us. You know those fans came from the local funeral home because their name and address was on the back of the fan. Hey free advertisement. Yep those were the days.
In the cities people did not have time to make their clothes are grow their own food, so dry goods and grocery stores increase the "store bought look".
Black men and women still paid a prominent part in the south. They owned business and had their own communities and churches and some were highly educated.
Music played a part of keeping families and cultures together. You know you have heard those old stories from your grandparents on how they use to sit around and listen to the radio for their favorite shows. OK kids. This was wayyyyyyy before computers, iPod/iPad, Walkmans, boom boxes and transistor radios. If you don't know what these items are look them up.
The barber/beauty shop is where you got all your news of the community. Even today if you just go to your neighborhood shop and sit long enough you will find out what is going on without even saying a word. Did you..........
All this being said, there were and still is to some degree issues of prejudice in the south. Please don't kid yourself that it isn't happening in your town around the globe. The south had the Jim Crow Laws. This was suppose to be separate but equal rights in everything. How can there be equality if you have two different standards. Look at the two fountains. Now tell me what is equal about that! As my girlfriend, Maggie says " isn't white a color??"
You are right Maggie and there are many colors in a crayola box. Many other people thought so because during the 1940-1970's there were many marches, riots, sit-ins, folk going to jail, beatings and murder.
- Before you could participate in a march or sit-in you had to be trained. Volunteers were instructed, should they be assaulted, to fall to the ground, roll themselves into a ball, and cover their heads with their arms in order to protect their head and vital organs from serious injury. They did not otherwise defend themselves from violence directed toward them by a racially segregated society.
- People who could not endure were ask to leave.
- The Civil Rights Movement was not just about blacks. It was about equality for all.
- Many students from all over America came to participate.
- Color was not an issue for those who believed in change.
- Getting the southern folk registered to vote was a tremendous effort.
|Folksingers Roger Johnson & Pete Seeger singing with Freedom School students|
As Lucimarian Roberts (Robin Roberts mom) says "Everybody Got Something" is so true. I am a product of southern parents. My dad from Louisiana, my mom from Texas. My dad tells the story of returning home to Louisiana after being in WWII. He had been a dutiful black man in the south so he knew what was expected of him when dealing with white people. (Holding your head down. Not looking them in the eye. Saying yes and no Sir, and them calling you boy.) Upon returning, he felt he had served his country and respect was due him. A white man asked him a question and he responded by looking at him and did not say yes sir. He went on his way. Later that day a local white businessman whom he had worked closely with before the war came to him and stated that my dad had changed and it would be wise for him to return to California. He wasn't trying to put my dad in his place. He was simply trying to avoid a hanging. After only one day at home he boarded a bus the next day to California and never returned home again. That was in 1944.
This museum is well worth the trip.
Question of the Day
Does everyone have equal right today?
Well Campers. Until next time......
Lo & Bren