Slaves were promised that they would receive 40 acres and 1 mule upon abolition of slavery. The land and mule were to be a head start on life for the slaves but they were never allotted any fraction of an acre nor did they receive a mule.
This article includes two videos one embedded and one as a link within the article, both videos are very short, one is almost 10 minutes and the other a little over 2 minutes. The embedded video is Mr. McNeal's story and is a first hand accord of sharecropping, very touching and profound recollection.
Instead of the land promise, slaves were introduced to, sharecropping. I would provide a definite description of sharecropping but because research and history reflect that sharecropping rules and agreements were subject to change over seasons, or/and overnight, some general practices will be shared.
Let us get a visual of what was happening when sharecropping was introduced.
The slaves found out they were free and they were beyond happy about their freedom, I'm sure, until weather and seasons began to get the best of them amidst the racism and oppression that burdened their very soul.
The atmosphere was such that they were free but, they had nothing and nowhere to go. Not only were the slaves without places of their own, efforts to progress were maligned. Slaves had a hard time getting a job and in fact, the "job" market was just being established because it was slaves who did all of the work.
If we go back in time and try to put ourselves in their shoes, we can imagine probably just traveling to a place where we could be accepted and attempt to establish a life there.
However, the human brain does not always generate that which one cannot see unless one has seen it and that meant that many slaves knew nothing other than their slave life, oppression and the racism that went/goes along with it.
The human brain generates methods out of ideas that one produces in mind through pictures. There are things many of us have yet to fathom like...finding a way to build our own rocket transportation and establishing life on some other planet by any means.
Some have thought of this and NASA is one group/company that works actively trying to figure out what is going on in other planets so that possibility of a suitable habitat might be possible.
Meditation helps one to picture that what one usually does not think of, reflect upon or dream.
In any case, some slaves saw themselves living a fruitful life and they kept wondering the Earth until they found a place to do it but for most, home was where their loved ones were buried, home was where their children were born, home was somewhere down in that rotten fortress of racism and they needed to make life work for them there, in that same space.
Sharecropping meant that a slave could continue to reside on the land and purchase it with a combination of crops and revenue thereof.
Many refer to sharecropping as a lease term/rental of the land but such practice was rare amongst Whites even amongst themselves so it is highly unlikely that slaves expected to lease land. Majority of records infer/suggest that slaves were purchasing land.
Furthermore, slaves were promised 40 acres and a mule so they were expecting to be purchasing land if they were not receiving it on the terms of the promising, leasing/renting would have meant they still had nothing and this is where trickery similar to that of the constant breaking of peace treaties with Native American's came in.
In sharecropping, slaves were sold land at a price so unreasonable that they could never purchase it. They were to pay off their mortgaged land with crops and revenue produced therein but naturally, racism and oppression allowed for heartless landowners to play cruel mind games and beat slaves out of labor, revenue, property and land.
The rate was not the only thing unfortunate about sharecropping, the interest would be outstanding and not long after, the atmosphere looked just as it did when slavery was still legal. Blacks who left the land were sought after and even brought back in chains. PBS has a very interesting video on sharecropping at the following link:
Most any Black living in the South who may be around the age of 60 or older can recall and tell you stories about picking cotton as if they were a slave. Do a self test and ask someone Black who lived in the Southern States, someone who is around the age of 60 or older if they ever picked cotton and you will be surprised when you hear them tell a story that sounds like a slave recollection. This is because sharecropping was another form of slavery; Blacks were free, but being cheated, manipulated and tricked.
Naturally, there were some White's who did follow through and we know that only because nothing is ever written in stone so there had to be some margin of persons who did the right thing.
Meanwhile and for the most part, Blacks fought, loss, and won many cases of all types trying to get a handle on the set-up, the oppression. Progress continues to be made to this day but there are still problematic systems that allow for oppression to malign growth. Please view the video embedded within this article titled A Sharecroppers Voice as well as the link PBS video link above.
PBS-Slavery By Another Name
Youtube- Odell McNeal's sharecropping story