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The Long Road to Freedom

One day in Black Labor History
  
The end of the Civil War brought freedom, chaos and misery to tens 
of thousands of ex-slaves.  Many joined the ranks of semi-slaves 
of all colors in the South and became tenant farmers.  In exchange
for a portion of the crops, which the landlords took as rent, the 
tenant farmers could farm their land.  This was not as easy as 
it looks. 

For the most part, the new tenant farmers were illiterate and 
unlettered.  They depended on their landlords not to cheat them. 
One popular ditty of the times shows the new famers were at the 
mercy of their landlords.

An ought's an ought
and a five's a figger,
all for the landlord
and none for the nigger.

Between landlords who took advantage of them and the plague of 
boll weevils and bad weather, many blacks went north, following 
more promises from the white man.  Northern industrialists often 
used blacks to derail the new labor movement. Blacks were the 
lowest men on the labor totem pole, and naturally, the lowest paid.

Several bloody labor riots pit non-union blacks against newly 
unionized whites. A southern Illinois factory owner touched off 
one of the bloodiest union wars in Southern Illinois history 
when he imported trainloads of southern blacks to replace striking
white miners.

A southern Illinois mine owner set the stage for one of the bloodiest
labor riots in Illinois history.  He imported trainloads of Southern
Blacks to replace striking coal miners in the late 19th century.
The riot was so fierce, that the sheriff ran out of bullets.
 
 
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