Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Gregory T Carter

Committee Members

Robert S Smith, Joseph Rodriguez, Joe Austin


This dissertation examines the racially motivated mob dominated violence that took place during the autumn of 1919 in rural Phillips County, Arkansas nearby Elaine. The efforts of white planters to supplant the loss of enslaved labor due to the abolition of American slavery played a crucial role in re-making the southern agrarian economy in the early twentieth century. My research explores how the conspicuous features of sharecropping, tenant farming, peonage, or other variations of debt servitude became a means for the re-enslavement of African Americans in the Arkansas Delta. However, as black sharecroppers faced economic, social, and political struggles rooted in racism and discrimination; they attempted to change their surroundings through activism and resistance. A point of interest in this work is World War I and how attitudes following the war shaped the ways in which sharecroppers in the Delta region of Arkansas engaged with race and the social order. The emergence of a labor movement became the catalyst for sharecroppers to form a labor union which represented a material threat to white hegemony. In general, this dissertation will explore the causal connections of the Elaine Riot of 1919 and the circumstances that eventually led to the landmark Supreme Court case Moore v. Dempsey (1923).