“Cotton Field”

By an unknown photographer, unknown location, ca. 1919

This photo seems to imply that the pickers were working for the white man in the background. That may be true, but many African Americans were sharecroppers where the farmer received a portion of the crops as payment from the landlord. While they were often forced into debt, at least initially, sharecropping gave them more freedom and control over their work and lives.

National Archives, Records of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (83-ML-4-90)