Curator's Talk – Black Resistance in the Depression Era: The Missouri Sharecroppers' Strike of 1939

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

University of Missouri's Ellis Library

Exhibition opens February 7 with Curator Talk Feb. 22.

In January of 1939 St. Louis Post-Dispatch photojournalist Arthur Witman documented the Missouri Sharecropper’s Strike along Highways 60 and 61 in Southeast Missouri.  The local landowners had been given federal funds by the Depression era Agriculture Adjustment Administration (A.A.A) to leave their farmland fallow, and many of these property holders chose to keep the money for themselves and evict the workers who had farmed their land.  African American labor leader, Rev. Owen Whitfield, organized a strike to protest these evictions, bringing roughly 1500 of the farm workers together in roadside shantytowns that called public attention to their plight. The exhibition of photographs includes images of the strike as well as Witman’s later photos of nearby Cropperville, a village created after the protest where many of the displaced sharecroppers came to live and work communally. 

SHSMO Art Curator Joan Stack will present a lecture on the exhibition Feb. 22, 2:30 to 3:30, in Ellis Library.

Exhibition and lecture sponsored by The University of Missouri’s Black History Month Committee, The State Historical Society of Missouri, and MU Libraries