Abiding courage: African American migrant women and the East by Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo

By Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo

Among 1940 and 1945, millions of African american citizens migrated from the South to the East Bay quarter of northern California looking for the social and fiscal mobility that was once linked to the region's increasing protection and its popularity for larger racial tolerance. Drawing on fifty oral interviews with migrants in addition to on archival and different written documents, Abiding braveness examines the reviews of the African American girls who migrated west and equipped groups there.Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo vividly indicates how girls made the transition from southern household and box paintings to jobs in an commercial, wartime economic system. even as, they have been suffering to maintain their households jointly, developing new families, and growing community-sustaining networks and associations. whereas white ladies shouldered the double burden of salary exertions and house responsibilities, black ladies confronted even higher demanding situations: discovering homes and colleges, finding church buildings and clinical prone, and contending with racism. by way of concentrating on ladies, Lemke-Santangelo presents new views on the place and the way social switch occurs and the way neighborhood is proven and maintained.

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Rather, institutionalized debt peonage, the boll weevil, and New Deal farm policies that gave landowners an incentive to evict tenant farmers kept men and women on the edge of what is humanly tolerable. Of all farm families, fewer than a third owned their own land. Indeed, black farm ownership steadily declined during migrant women's childhood years. 18 Those who owned their land frequently worked for wages or ran side businesses to offset fluctuating crop values, discriminatory credit policies, and the increasing costs of seed, fertilizer, and equipment.

But debt, which was institutionalized through the crop lien and sharecropping systems, was an essential part of southern agriculture. Merchants and landowners profited through high interest rates, inflated prices for goods, and the fraudulent manipulation of tenants' accounts; consequently, poor farmers endured a system of peonage. The life of the chronically indebted contained serious hardship and frequent hunger. 21 During the depression, conditions for tenants went from bad to worse. Because New Deal agricultural reforms offered them compensation for Page 18 plowing crops under or holding land out of production, landowners evicted thousands of tenant families.

Formal Education among Migrants45 10. Frequency of Migrants' Return Visits to the South95 Page xi Acknowledgements It gives me pleasure to acknowledge that this project was a collective endeavor. I owe a great debt to William Chafe, who encouraged me to take creative risks and provided invaluable criticism and editorial assistance. I am also grateful for the suggestions that I received from Raymond Gavins, Kristen Neuschel, Julius Scott, and C. Eric Lincoln. As ideas for this study emerged and coalesced, my friends at Duke University and the University of California, Berkeley, provided unflagging support and helpful insights.

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