The Colored Farmers Alliance
None in today’s Black Community talk about the Colored Farmers Alliance which had over one million members functioning as one of the most progressive Black economic and political forces the community developed in this country. Started in 1886, slightly more than twenty years after slavery, the Colored Farmers Alliance was eventually made up of over 1.2 million farmers and farm workers engaged in extensive co-operative efforts while maintaining a publication, and sponsoring many educational initiatives and conventions.
As mentioned by History Professor Judith Stein in her piece included in the anthology, Renewing Black Intellectual History, entitled: “Of Booker T. Washington and Others, The Political Economy of Racism in the United States:”
“The [Colored Farmers’ Alliance] [through] suballiences were simultaneously fraternal organizations which helped sick and disabled members and purveyed advice on farming, raising families, and other problems of interest to rural people; they also taught the orders principles of political economy. Quickly expanding its activities, the Alabama [Colored Farmers’ Alliance] created a marketing exchange in Mobile, united against the contested mills to obtain higher prices for seed, and cooperated with the Southern Alliance (made up of Whites) in other areas affecting farmers.
These were former slaves barely a generation removed from shackles. The Colored Farmers’ Alliance started to work extensively with the Southern Alliance, made up of Whites, and the two organizations confederated in 1890. Furthermore, the two organizations cooperated on many initiatives to protect farmers from economic exploitation by larger Southern Institutions. Moreover, the two organizations fused their activity into the Populist Movement and Populist Party that rose in the South during that time. This interracial cooperation, within such a short period after Slavery, mobilized Black and White farm workers into a powerful force threatening the Southern establishment and the political order benefiting the elites.
American history is awesome, and so much of it has been hidden or taken from us.