Archived Story

Documentary tells sharecroppers story

Published 9:55pm Friday, September 10, 2010

“Sho’ Nuff, Roxie” is the story of African-American sharecroppers during the turn of the 20th century.

Nuff said?

Not quite, said Faye Walker Howell, director and playwright.

“This is a documentary that goes beyond the surface of a story to tell what life was really like for African-American sharecroppers during this period,” Howell said. “It is based on family history and does, I believe, truly portray the struggles of these people and how they survived and overcame the many hardships they faced.”

Much of the documentary was shot at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama, which provided an authentic backdrop for the story that unfolds in dramatic fashion.

The history African-Americans from Southeast Alabama is rather sketchy, Howell said.

“We can’t trace our history very far because it was not documented,” she said. “So, there will be generations that don’t know what life was like for African-Americans in Southeast Alabama unless we tell it. We want future generations to be aware of things that went on and how our ancestors lived. They need to have an idea of the struggles and how they endured and overcame.”

Howell’s family can be traced from Tennessee to the Henry and Houston county areas. It was from the elders in the family that she heard the stories that have been passed down through the oral tradition.

“So many of our people were sharecroppers and I am the daughter of a sharecropper,” Howell said. “So, that is the story of our people that I wanted to tell.”

Howell has published two books based on family history, “Shaking My Family Tree” and “Shaking My Family Tree, a Second Glance.”

Those books helped prepare her to write the script for a docu-drama that has the potential to have a far-reaching impact.

“Twelve years of research have gone into the telling of “Sho’ Nuff, Roxie” and Howell is confident that the story she tells is one that was told over and over again in the African-American “quarters” in the early- to mid- 1900s. The same story. Just different characters.

“Roxie was my great-great-grandmother,” Howell said. “She was the granddaughter of a wealthy plantation owner. Her mother was the daughter of the plantation owner but her daddy was a black sharecropper. They were playmates as children and grew very fond of each other and fell in love.”

Roxie was raised in the “quarters” and the secret surrounding her was very guarded.

The “Sho’ Nuff” real story has been passed down from Roxie through the generations and is now being told for future generations so that they may better understand, Howell said.

Sharecropping is a system of agriculture in which a landowner allows a “cropper” to use the land in return for a share of the crop produced on the land. It was commonly known as farming on halves.

In theory, it seemed like a good system for both the landowner and the cropper. The landowner provided the land, equipment and seeds. The cropper provided the labor.

For an African-American who had no land, no mule or plow and little means, sharecropping was a way to eek out a living.

“But, too, often it didn’t work that way, Howell said.

With little or no education, it was easy for unethical landowners to take advantage of the croppers and they often did so, Howell said.

“Many African-American sharecroppers were cheated and of what they earned and what they were owed,” she said.

“Making the struggles and hardships even worse and overcoming them more difficult.”

But through faith, diligence and sheer will, many of the sharecroppers did overcome the situation and circumstances of their lives.

“Sho’ Nuff, Roxie” is the story of overcoming.

“It’s a powerful story and it is told by a very good cast,” Howell said. “Everyone is committed to making this docu-drama a great success.”

“Sho’ Nuff, Roxie” was previewed at the Legends of the Fall festival in Chipley, Florida and received great audience reviews. Howell, too, was pleased.

“We were proud to have the opportunity to present “Sho’ Nuff, Roxie’ before a live audience and we are anxious to make it available to the public,” Howell said. “Hopefully, the docu-drama will be aired on cable stations and our goal is for it to be shown on the History Channel. We want to get the message out to young people — to everyone — about the plight of African-American sharecroppers.”

In the fall, ‘Sho’ Nuff, Roxie’ will return to the Pioneer Museum of Alabama, where it will be performed at the amphitheater.

  • Lorid

    As a member of the cast of Sho Nuff Roxie, I would like to say thank you for writing this article. To the Pioneer Museum, thank you so much for allowing us to come in and film. We had so much fun and enjoyed the beauty of the pieces of history that you have for the public to see. We all look forward to the opportunity to come and perform Sho Nuff Roxie live, and give the public a feel first hand of the docu drama and the remarkable life of a sharecroppers daughter.Again we thank you.
    Lori Drummond

    Report comment

  • widowmaker

    What was is like for a white sharecropper in the fifty’s. Not any didfferent than the black sharecropper at anytime else in history. My dad was a sharecropper who was cheated out of his money as well. I’m sick and tired of everything about black america. The poor whites had it just as damn bad as anyone else. We barely got by and couldn’t get welfare or free medical or free lunches at school. If you are going to tell a story, then include all people in it. I don’t feel sorry for them one bit. THey have more of a opportunity now than any other race in american history. Get off you lazy a$$ and get a job like everyone else has to.

    Report comment

    • Lorid

      @ widowmaker..As you can tell..I am white and one of my character’s in this film,is Sueann Littleton a plantation overseer’s wife. Which means they worked right along next to the colored..I respect the fact that you were in the military and I thank you for being part if that history. How ever you have no idea of what Roxie went through as a bi racial young lady growing up..So I invite you to see the live performance in the will see and understand ever I do out of respect ask that you please not be so hostile over this we have not forgotten any part of the other history, there is allot of history out there that is unknown and we are bringing it out with this film…@ myopinon I wish I could tell you when we would be there..all I can say is look for the announcement of the live performence..and thank you for your support.. Sincerely Lori Drummond ( Sarah Callahan & Sueanne Littleton )

      Report comment

  • myopinon

    I would love to see this production the next time it comes to this area. Please advertise it more; it would be great if it could come around February.
    To widow maker, history is history!!! Get over it and deal with it. You need to realize that your race may have had a hard time but they never suffered the pain the black race had to endure. Please tell me how many of your ancestors were slaves, forced to pick cotton, beaten to death and forced to serve others against their will probably none. It is amazing how unfortunate you were not able to receive free lunch, insurance or welfare it was all controlled by your ancestors. Please know that I am not a product of the welfare system, my parents worked hard to provide for their family and I am not bitter that I could not receive those so called luxuries you named. However, I am very proud to be black and have accepted history and now I am making history by not allowing what my ancestors had to endure hold me back. I suggest you do the same and get your lazy behind a job.

    Report comment

  • widowmaker

    Myopinon, I worked everyday of my liife until I could work no more. I am a total disabled veteran who fought for this country, so people could have their freedom. You need to get over it. I don’t owe you a damn thing. Quit living in the past. As far as slaves, my family didn’t own any. So what you need to do is get a life and leave me the hell alone. The past 13 years I have had 10 surgeries for what I went through In Veit Nam. I have now been diagonised with prostate cancer, which another surgery I have to go through. This is my second bout with cancer, so as you can see I really don’t give a damn about your history and what you claim they went through.

    Report comment

  • myopinon

    Widowmaker, I pray that you are relieved of some of your bitterness. It seems as if you are angry at world for your illness. One of the best old remedies to cure anything is kindness; you should try it. Thanks for serving our country.

    Report comment

  • fayeh2006

    This message is for “widowmaker”!! First of all the world can see that you are a miserable person, therefore you want to try and make us (blacks) angry. You know what? You are not hurting us the least. You described your medical conditions on this topic, so do you want us to feel sorry for you? Well, we do, because you are unlearned. Therefore I am asking everyone of us christians to say a prayer for you and your condition, because we do LOVE you! This film is not being made for anyone to feel sorry for us. This is our history and we tell it however we please! The next time you see an article of this nature, just skip reading it if it makes you angry, because that is not our intent. We also had many relatives that fought, disabled and killed in the Vietnam War. Does that make you happy?

    Report comment

Editor's Picks