Palgrave Studies in Oral History

Sharecropper’s Troubadour

John L. Handcox, the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union, and the African American Song Tradition

Authors: Honey, M.

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About this book

Folk singer and labor organizer John Handcox was born to illiterate sharecroppers, but went on to become one of the most beloved folk singers of the prewar labor movement. This beautifully told oral history gives us Handcox in his own words, recounting a journey that began in the Deep South and went on to shape the labor music tradition.

About the authors

Michael Honey is the Fred T. and Dorothy G. Haley Endowed Professor of the Humanities at The University of Washington, USA, and was a 2011 Guggenheim fellow. He is author of numerous award-winning books on labor, race relations, and Southern history, including Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign (Norton, 2007). His interviews and writing regularly appear in national media such as The Atlantic, NPR/Fresh Air, The Nation, History News Network, ColorLines, and many other print and digital publications.

Reviews

“In Sharecropper’s Troubadour, Michael Honey has deftly recovered the remarkable story of John Handcox. Honey provides a powerful and compelling account that takes Handcox’s personal and family story and intertwines it with the STFU’s fight against the racism and economic exploitation of southern sharecropping. … By using oral history, Honey allows the rich and deep nuances of the personal perspective that makes history so compelling to rise to the fore. … Sharecropper’s Troubadour is an outstanding work.” (Scott Holzer, Missouri Historical Review, Vol. 110 (4), July, 2016)


'John's story will not be forgotten, now that Michael Honey has got it down on paper. As long as human beings like to sing...I believe his songs will live on. In that sense, John will never die.' - Pete Seeger, from the Foreword

"A deeply moving account of the life and struggles of John Handcox who became known as 'the sharecropper's troubadour' for the songs he wrote and sang at union meetings in Arkansas, Mississippi, and throughout the nation. Honey's book is essential reading to understand the history of labor and black music in the rural south." - William Ferris, author of The Storied South: Voices of Writers and Artists

"John L. Handcox, the unsung radical guitar-strumming storyteller, has finally found the person to tell his story. Michael Honey not only paints a lyrical portrait of Handcox but delivers a powerful history of a people, a movement, and a culture that birthed the Freedom Songs of the modern era." - Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

"An arresting account of the exemplary life of an American genius. Honey's and Handcox's voices mix in a unique combination of oral history and scholarly research that reminds us of the centrality of music, and of poetry, to US freedom movements." - David Roediger, co-author of The Production of Difference

Table of contents (8 chapters)

  • Introduction: Music, Memory, and History

    Honey, Michael K.

    Pages 1-10

  • “Freedom After ‘While’ ”: Life and Labor in the Jim Crow South

    Honey, Michael K.

    Pages 11-29

  • Raggedy, Raggedy Are We: Sharecropping and Survival

    Honey, Michael K.

    Pages 31-46

  • The Planter and the Sharecropper: The Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union

    Honey, Michael K.

    Pages 47-70

  • There Is Mean Things Happening in This Land: Terror in Arkansas

    Honey, Michael K.

    Pages 71-93

Buy this book

eBook $19.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-137-08836-9
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Download immediately after purchase
Hardcover $105.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-0-230-11127-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $30.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-0-230-11128-8
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.

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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Sharecropper’s Troubadour
Book Subtitle
John L. Handcox, the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union, and the African American Song Tradition
Authors
Series Title
Palgrave Studies in Oral History
Copyright
2013
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan US
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-1-137-08836-9
DOI
10.1057/9781137088369
Hardcover ISBN
978-0-230-11127-1
Softcover ISBN
978-0-230-11128-8
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XIX, 225
Number of Illustrations and Tables
11 b/w illustrations
Topics