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Hardships of Southern Sharecro

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Hardships of Southern Sharecro

By: Mike Green


For many people in the 1930's living conditions were not as adequate as they needed to be. The stock market had just crashed in 1928, and the US was in the midst of the Great Depression. Many people suffered from lack of money, and many others suffered from lack of food. One group of people who suffered greatly during this time period were the southern share croppers. Factors that caused the substandard living conditions of the southern share croppers in the 1930's include lack of education, poor health care, and inadequate living facilities. The first factor that caused the substandard living conditions of the southern share croppers was their lack of education. There were several reasons the share croppers didn't get the education they needed. One main reason was because many children didn't go to school. Harold Walker writes that Southern cotton states ranked lower in rate of attendance for each student enrolled than any of the other states in the nation (4). A factor that contributed to this was their excessive mobility, which inhibited many children from going to school (Corder 27). It is common knowledge that any child who constantly moves around will not be able to attend school on a regular basis, and even if they go to a school when they get a chance they will be so far behind they would have a difficult time catching up. Another factor that impeded on a child's attendance at school was the fact that they never went to school when there was cotton to be picked (Walker 8). This may not seem like a large task, but some times it could take weeks to pick all the cotton. These few weeks that a child spent picking cotton was valuable learning time, and missing it could put a child too far behind to catch up. Another reason share croppers didn't get the education they needed was because many southern rural schools had short terms (Gentry 21). Because of this teachers would not be able to cover all of the material that they needed to cover, or they would have to rush through the material they did cover. A final reason the education of the southern cotton states was not as good as other states was because their teachers were not as good. This was reflected in the fact that the salaries of Southern teachers were not as high as the salaries of other teachers (Mckeon 98). Back in the 1930's the higher a teacher's salary was the higher their quality and training was (Mckeon 98). This meant that when children did go to school they did not get adequate teaching. Because of all of these reasons education of the Southern cotton states was at an all time low. The children were not getting the education they needed, so they were forced to work the substandard jobs such as sharecropping. This meant that their children would not get the education they needed, either. It was a cycle that led to the lowering of the general living conditions of southern share croppers, but lack of education was not the only factor that lowered the living conditions of the share croppers. Another reason the living conditions of the southern share croppers were so low was because they had poor health care. To begin with the tenant farmers did not eat in a healthy manner. Mckeon writes that many tenant farmers in the South said that garden vegetables, milk, butter, and eggs were never a part of their diet (116). One of the main things that they did eat was 'sowbelly', a fat salty pork (Walker 33). Because they ate so poorly it was hard for them to stay ...

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