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During the Great Depression, the New Deal’s Agricultural Adjustment Act attempted to raise disastrously low commodity prices by authorizing the federal government to pay farmers to raise fewer crops. These crop reduction subsidies enabled landlords to dispossess so many African-American tenants and share-croppers that the bill was often referred to sardonically as the “Negro Removal Act.” Despite such unintended consequences and other exclusions from New Deal programs, large numbers of African Americans left the Republican party during the 1930s to support President Franklin D. Roosevelt, largely because many African Americans benefited from New Deal job programs and relief measures. This photograph depicts black sharecroppers forced off of farms by landlords eager to receive federal crop reduction subsidies as they gathered along Highway 60 in New Madrid County, Missouri, in January 1939.

Source: Arthur Rothstein—Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.