Meet the Author of "Sharecropper's Troubadour" set for Feb. 5

Monday, January 25, 2016
"Sharecropper's Troubadour" tells the story of John Handcox, who was an instrumental part of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union in Tyronza. (Photo provided)

The Southern Tenant Farmers Museum will be hosting a "Meet the Author" for the book "Sharecropper's Troubadour" by Dr. Michael Honey as part of the museum's Black History Month events. The event will be held at 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 5, at the museum. Dr. Honey, of the University of Washington Tacoma, will be present to read from his book, answer questions, and perform John Handcox songs. The event is free and open to the public.

The book tells the story of folk singer and labor organizer John Handcox. Born in Brinkley, Ark., in 1904, Handcox was a Great Depression era tenant farmer. He joined the Southern Tenant Farmers Union in Tyronza in 1935, a year after the union was founded, and wrote songs and poetry to rally union members.

He became known as the sharecropper's troubadour. His use of African-American song traditions helped organize poor sharecroppers, both black and white, in what was possibly the most successful agricultural union of the time. His songs became popular folk songs in their own right and continue to be sung today after being promoted by folk artists like Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and Joe Glazer. In 1985, Seeger introduced Dr. Honey to Handcox at a labor arts forum, and the Smithsonian Institution asked Honey to interview Handcox about his life and music, which eventually led to the book.

Dr. Michael Honey will read from his book and perform some of John Handcox's songs at the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum on Feb. 5. (Photo provided)

The Southern Tenant Farmers Museum is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site located at 117 S. Main Street in Tyronza. For further information, contact Director Linda Hinton at 870-487-2909 or email at lhinton@astate.edu.

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