Wednesday, February 08, 2012

In America, racial oppression is not ancient history - The Washington Post

In America, racial oppression is not ancient history - The Washington Post: When talking about his childhood in Earle, Ark., during the 1920s and ’30s, my father always mentions a sheriff who rented out prisoners to wealthy landowners. Black men arrested on charges such as vagrancy and drunkenness, or just for being “uppity,” were forced to pay off their fines by working in coal mines, cotton fields, turpentine camps and timber mills.

“People would come to town from all over the county on weekends, riding wagons and mules,” my dad recalls. “Naturally, guys who had worked hard all week on the farm would want to have a little fun. They might buy a half a pint, get drunk. Then the sheriff would show up, and the next thing they knew they’d be working on a plantation and you might never hear from them again.”

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