Glenn Beck, Progressivism, the Elaine 1919 riots and Christianity
The Elaine riots of 1919 for some reason have languished in the annals of history far too long. As someone born only 12 miles south of Elaine and was raised in Elaine, I think the events sheds some light on progressivism in this country.
I am an avid listener of Glenn Beck and his assault of progressivism. I agree with about 95% of what he has to say. However progressivism as it related to Blacks in the south and particularly Elaine Arkansas in the early 20th century, was not about tearing down the Ideals of the USA. It was about progressing toward gaining access to the American Dream. At least that is the way I see it and now I will tell you why.
First, in case you haven’t heard during the early 20th century blacks or Negros as they were called at the time, was loosing rights. After the civil war blacks had become Judges, Senators and representatives. They had become business men, doctors, lawyers, some of the best Jockeys and boxers, etc and etc.
A portion of whites cooperated with the KKK and other supremacy types to introduce laws, rules and customs to make sure that blacks were not allowed compete directly with whites. The idea being to always keep blacks in a tributary rut.
It was not only blacks who suffered under the Jim Crow laws. Poor whites found that the system allowed them to be mistreated also, especially when it came to sharecropping. The owners of the land would lend it out to those who would work the land to produce the crops. The landowners would supply everything needed by the share cropper, including food from his company store. This sharecropping worked so well for some landowners that it continued until the 1960s.
Who haven’t heard Tennessee Ernie Ford’s song about owing his soul to the company store. Because when the crops were reaped and processed, the sharecroppers would barely have enough to survive and would still be in hock to work again for the landowner. In fact he was pretty much obligated and had to take what was offered him.
As a kid, I barely remember my Dad’s sharecropping. Basically, all I can remember is sitting in a hauling truck under the steering wheel. What I do remember is that my dad was very upset when he received his part of the pay for the cotton that he raised. He said that he would never share crop again and he never did.
Some readers may have seen the movie The Great Debaters, starring Denzel Washington. Besides being a very good movie, it can give a visual to the feel of sharecroppers white and black who found the share croping system down right opressive.
In the movie one of the debaters told Denzel’s character that he had to quit if he was found to be a communist. This scene pictured for me pretty much the way I have always seen the blacks in the Arkansas Progressive Farmers of America organization.
Continue to part 2