The Registry

Wed, 12.06.1865 story

Sharecropping In America, a story

*On this date in 1865, sharecropping is briefly described.  Sharecropping historically is a system of agriculture or agricultural production in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crop produced on the land (e.g., 50 percent of the crop). We chose this date because of the […]

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Thu, 06.16.1927 story

George E. Johnson, Businessman born

On this date in 1927, George Ellis Johnson Sr., an African American businessman, was born.

He was raised in a three-room sharecropper’s shack in Richton, MS. Johnson’s parents separated and he and his mother, Priscilla, moved to Chicago in 1929. He began working at the age of eight, shining shoes while attending Doolittle Elementary School, and then Wendell Phillips High School for three years before quitting to work full-time. Johnson worked during the day as a busboy and in the evenings he set pins in a bowling alley.

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Fri, 01.31.1919 story

Jackie Robinson, Baseball Player born

*Jackie Robinson was born on this date in 1919. He was an African American athlete, business executive, and civil rights leader.

Born to a family of sharecroppers in Cairo, Georgia, Jack Roosevelt Robinson attended Pasadena Junior College and UCLA. In 1941 Robinson left college to join the United States Army and he received an honorable discharge in 1944 with the rank of first lieutenant. The following year, Robinson began his professional baseball career with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues.

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Sun, 04.04.1915 story

Muddy Waters, Blues Musician born

*This date marks the birth of Muddy Waters in 1915. He was an African American musician, singer and cultural icon.

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Wed, 04.12.1882 story

Jimmy Winkfield, Horse Jockey born

Jimmy Winkfield was born on this date in 1882. He was an African American horse jockey.

From Chilesburg near Lexington, KY, he began racing in 1898. Winkfield went from being the youngest of 17 in a family of sharecroppers, to racing for $8 a month and eventually, $1,000 a race. His racing statistics show him winning back-to-back Kentucky Derby’s, (1901 on His Eminence, and 1902 on Alan-A-Dale). He was the last Black jockey to win a Kentucky Derby.

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Wed, 05.13.1914 story

Joe Louis, Heavyweight Boxer born

This date in 1914 marks Joe Louis’ birthday, one the greatest boxers in American history.

He was born Joseph Louis Barrow on a sharecropper’s farm near Lafayette, AL, in 1914. At the age of ten his family migrated to Detroit. Louis won his first professional fight by a knockout in 1934. He won the professional heavyweight championship of the world three years later, defeating American boxer James Jack Braddock by a knockout. During his professional boxing career, Louis compiled 68 victories and three defeats.

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Sat, 10.06.1917 story

Fannie Lou Hamer, Activist born

Fannie Lou Hamer was born on this date in 1917. She was an African American civil rights activist.

Born Fannie Lou Townsend in Montgomery County, MS, she was the last of 20 children in a family of sharecroppers. She began chopping and picking cotton as a child on a plantation in the Mississippi Delta. She lived and worked there until 1962, when she was fired because she attempted to register to vote. She and her family were also forced to move from the plantation. In 1963, Hamer did register to vote and committed herself to civil rights activism.

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Thu, 10.07.1897 story

Elijah Muhammad, Nation of Islam Leader born

On this date the Registry remembers the birth of Elijah Muhammad in 1897. He was the leader of the Black separatist religious movement known as the Nation of Islam in America. The Nation of Islam is sometimes known as the Black Muslims.

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Mon, 11.11.1929 story

LaVern Baker, Singer born

On this date in 1929, LaVern Baker, an African American singer and entertainer, was born.

She was born Delores Williams in Chicago and began singing at an early age. The natural power of her voice, like many of her peers before her, came from her gospel background. Raised by her aunt, the famed Memphis Minnie, also influenced young Delores. In late 1946, as soon as she was old enough to go from singing for the Lord in choir to singing for money in a business that served liquor, she got a job at the Club De Lisa.

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Mon, 03.18.1901 story

William H. Johnson, Artist born

*On this date we remember the birth of William H. Johnson in 1901. He was a Black artist who worked primarily as a painter.

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