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The Times

Artist Blog by Harlan Bozeman

In 1919, when cotton prices had reached an unprecedented rate, Black sharecroppers began to organize in effort to receive fair payment instead of continuing to stay trapped in a relentless vortex of credit and debt. Today, residents of Elaine are still living within a similar endless cycle. Having a taxable job forces you to lose government assistance - and government assistance prevents you from getting above the poverty line. The only employment opportunities in Elaine are a few local businesses and working on soybean farms, and the farming jobs tend to be offered exclusively to white people. To make money or discover opportunities you have to leave.

Conversations made me aware of how segregated the community is along Main Street, geographically and ideologically. Rumors and gossip continue to ignite an emergency response from the White people who live on the south side of Main Street. The stories that I heard crushed me. Mind you; these were not tales from the civil rights era but accounts within the last five years. When examining Elaine’s history in the previous fifty years, there is a minute amount of information to find, so I viewed these stories as a privileged enlightenment that I kept to myself for some time.

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