We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
In 1939, almost 1,000 sharecroppers—mostly African-Americans, but whites, too—planted themselves along two state highways in Missouri in protest of a raw deal that had left them all homeless. Led by preacher and fellow cropper Owen Whitfield, the farmers attempted to hold the Show Me State to its motto—”The Welfare of the People Shall Be the Supreme Law”—after landowners pocketed New Deal farm subsidies intended for the tenants they evicted. But like cutting through a tough steak with a butter knife, there was no quick and easy route to the prized morsel. It was the end of the Great Depression, and it would take years for the sharecroppers to gain federal relief. In the meantime, aided by Whitfield, they established their own community of Cropperville. The film Oh Freedom After While, narrated by civil rights veteran Julian Bond, documents the struggle at noon at the National Archives at College Park’s Auditorium, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park. Free. (301) 713-6800. (Nefretiti Makenta)