SHARECROP DELTA COTTON (Stack Stories LLC 2018) features stories from the life of Sylvester Hoover, who was born into a cotton sharecropping family in the Mississippi Delta in 1957. Hoover recounts his family's struggles to access education and voting rights. He also paints a vivid picture of daily life and the unrelenting toil of even the young children on cotton plantations. Scenes include the plantation where he was raised, the church he still attends (burial place of Blues music legend Robert Johnson), and Hoover's school in Money, MS, where Emmett Till had his fateful encounter at Bryant's Grocery. Hoover reflects on his upbringing, the peonage system, and his feelings for the land and Blues music.
Director Biography - Claudia Stack
Claudia Stack (Ed.M.) is an educator and documentary filmmaker. Her background includes 22 years in education with a focus on building college preparedness, especially for first-generation college students. Her documentary films on historic African American schools were screened at the 2012 and the 2015 National Trust for Historic Preservation Conferences and many other venues. In 2009 Stack organized the inaugural UNCW Rosenwald School Legacy Conference. Stack has just finished SHARECROP, her third documentary film, supported by The Middle Road Foundation.
I have been documenting historic African American schools since 2003, and SHARECROP is my third feature documentary. My interest in documenting the lives of sharecroppers grew out of my first two films, which featured Rosenwald schools. These were schools that southern African American communities built during the segregation era with help from philanthropist Julius Rosenwald. Sharecropping was the economic context for many of the Rosenwald schools that were built.
However, when we visited the Delta and interviewed Sylvester Hoover, I realized that in his early youth African American children had only improvised schools that they attended for only a few months each year. Hoover and his older siblings had no public school of any kind until 1963. This was just one of the harsh realities his family faced.
We created the short film SHARECROP DELTA COTTON in order to highlight the experiences of African American cotton sharecroppers in the Delta.