The Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union was found in Arkansas in 1934 by agricultural workers in order to reform the sharecropping system. From the outset the union was integrated and also welcomed women into the organization. The effects of the Great Depression, the great drought of 1930-31 and finally a landowner removing 23 families from his land spurned the creation of the union. A group of eighteen men, black and white, formed the union of tenants and sharecroppers. The group made of members of the Ku Klux klan and survivors of Elaine, AR massacre, realized that they were stronger as on than separate.
Within two and a half years, the union grew to 31, 00 members in seven states. The union successfully petitioned First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s assistance in providing help for stranded members in southeast Missouri who were protesting a local landowner’s regression to the sharecropping system. The first lady replied and requested to speak H.L. Mitchell one of the founders of the union about the demonstration. In 1946, the union gained affiliation to the American Federation of Labor. With their assistance, the union continued fighting for the rights of all laborers to a fair wage and access to quality work.