One source of migrants to southern California



“In January 1939, motorists on highways in the “Bootheel” of southeastern Missouri began reporting a strange sight: thousands of sharecropper families were camped out on the roadside, their meager possessions piled around them, exposed to the wintry cold.

“The families, almost all African-American, had been evicted by the owners of the farms where they had lived. Because sharecroppers were entitled to a portion of the harvest of the fields they worked, the government had recently announced they were also entitled to a direct portion of federal farm subsidies — a distasteful arrangement for the landowners, who had decided they would rather keep the full subsidies and hire day laborers to bring in their crops.”

Eventually the federal government provided a long-term solution for some of the former sharecroppers.

Excerpt and Arthur Rothstein Farm Security Administration photo in the Library of Congress from . Click on the link to learn more about the protest.

One could presume that at least some of these people left Missouri in 1939 to seek a better life in southern California as shown in the following general description of the westward migration:

“As the landscape became uninhabitable and the depression wore on, more than 200,000 refugees from Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri followed Route 66 west to Arizona or California in search of jobs and new homes.”

Excerpt from .


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