Colored Farmers Alliance

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Colored Farmers Alliance

The Colored Farmers Alliance, an agrarian organization founded in Texas in 1886, represented the largest network of black farmers, sharecroppers, and agricultural laborers in the South during the late nineteenth century. Fueling the region's black populist movement, the organization began by espousing self-help and economic cooperation, but it then took increasingly radical measures to improve economic conditions through lobbying efforts, boycotts, and strikes, meeting fierce resistance from white authorities, often joined by the segregated Southern Farmers Alliance.

Within five years, the Colored Alliance spread to every southern state, comprising an estimated membership of 1,200,000of whom 300,000 were women. Many African Americans who joined the Colored Alliance were previously active in the Colored Agricultural Wheels, the Cooperative Workers of America, and the Knights of Labor. While the white Baptist minister Richard M. Humphrey served as the organization's general superintendent, most of its key leaders were black, including the Rev. Walter A. Pattillo of North Carolina and Oliver Cromwell of Mississippi. In 1891 the Colored Alliance launched a national cotton-pickers' strike, which was quickly suppressed by white planter militias. Members of the Colored Alliance turned to electoral politics, endorsing the Lodge Bill for federal supervision of elections, then helping to establish the People's Party. As the black populist movement grew and developed politically, the Colored Alliance began to dissolve. Black agrarian radicalism would resurface in the 1930s through the work of the Sharecroppers Union and the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union.

See also Labor and Labor Unions


Ali, Omar H. "Black Populism in the New South, 18861898." Ph.D. diss., Columbia University. 2003.

Gaither, Gerald H. Blacks and the Populist Revolt: Ballots and Bigotry in the "New South." University of Alabama Press, 1977.

Goodwyn, Lawrence C. "The Populist Response to Black America." In Democratic Promise: The Populist Moment in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976.

omar h. ali (1996)
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Colored Farmers Alliance

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Colored Farmers Alliance