Discussion in 'Honoring Black Ancestors' started by Isaiah, Mar 8, 2005.

  1. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Jun 8, 2004
    Likes Received:

    Biography of Ned Cobb


    By Richard Wormser

    Ned Cobb was a tenant farmer living in Tallapoosa County, Alabama, who joined the Sharecroppers Union in 1931 to fight for justice for black people and against exploitation by white landowners. He had been fairly successful as a farmer, an extraordinary achievement for a black man in rural Alabama. In a series of interviews in 1969 conducted by Theodore Rosengarten, a Harvard scholar, Cobb told the remarkable story of his life.

    Rosengarten's book, All God's Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw detailed many of Cobb's life experiences. ("Nate Shaw" was a pseudonym for Cobb.)

    His father had been a slave and had been emotionally crippled by it. He took out his frustration on his family, often beating his wife and children. When he was old enough, Cobb started to farm on his own. He worked as a sharecropper and eventually became a tenant farmer. A hard worker with a deep knowledge of crops and animals, Cobb managed to escape the financial traps set for him by local whites. They extended credit to him, hoping he would fail so they could then claim all his possessions and force him to work for them. Cobb stayed out of their debt, as he managed to avoid being destroyed by natural disasters such as the boll weevil epidemic and the collapse of cotton prices.

    "All God's dangers," he said, "ain't white men."

    In 1931, Cobb was profoundly impressed by the arrival of the Communist Party in the cotton fields of Alabama. He was aware that the party was defending the Scottsboro Boys, nine black youths who had been falsely charged with raping two white women. Cobb saw the Communists as the heirs to the abolitionists who came South during the Civil War and Reconstruction to finish the job their predecessors had started. He joined the party's union, the Sharecroppers Union, and distributed leaflets and literature and recruited new members.

    In 1952, when a sheriff tried to foreclose on a friend's home and livestock, Cobb defended his friend and became involved in a shootout. Wounded, Cobb was arrested. Offered the opportunity of a lighter sentence if he cooperated with the court and named fellow union members, Cobb refused and was sent to jail for 13 years. He lived long enough to see the triumph of the civil-rights movement.