The Emancipation Proclamation signaled an end to oppression for some, but not necessarily an end to depression. Many former slaves remained in the South, where they and generations to follow supplied the labor for the cotton industry. Working in the cotton fields was their vocation; it was what was expected of them by others and themselves. Even into the twentieth century, working in the cotton fields was a major means for some African Americans in the South to provide the family livelihood. But it was not an easy life.
In Enduring Years, Billie G. Griffin, a migrant cotton picker, opens the files of his life. A compilation of stories about his life as a survivor during rough times, this memoir picks up where the slave narratives of Oklahoma leave off. It provides a raw and rare glimpse into the life of a sharecropper as it shares how Billie and his family endured decades of crushing poverty, discrimination, and segregation in America, the South, and Oklahoma. It tells how sharecroppers weathered the harshest conditions since the end of slavery and how they tried to carve out a sustainable life and a promise of a better future for their children.
Praise for Enduring Years
“Enduring Years: Migrant Cotton Picker’s Memoir offers a slice of history regarding the life and times of the migrant cotton picker. It is thought-provoking reading with a creative flair.”
—Dr. Mary E. Carey, coauthor of When Words Are Not Enough: Strategies for Caregivers of Persons with Dementia