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the same as in slavery days. All are sprinkled ment abominations of New York and Boston in little groups over the face of the land cen- there are in no case over twenty-two persons tering about some dilapidated Big House to each ten rooms, and usually not over ten. where the head tenant or agent lives. There were reported in the county outside the corporate town of Albany 1,424 Negro families in 1899. Out of all these only a single one occupied a house of seven rooms; only fourteen have five rooms or more. The mass live in one and tworoom homes.
The size and arrangements of a people's homes are a fair index to their condition. All over the face of the land is the one-room cabin; now standing in the shadow of the Big House, now staring at the dusty road, now rising dark and sombre amid the green of the cotton fields. It is nearly always old and bare, built of rough boards and neither plastered nor sealed. Light and ventilation are supplied by the single door and the square hole in the wall with its wooden shutter. Within is a fire-place, black and smoky, and usually unsteady with age. A bed or two, a table, a wooden chest and a few chairs make up the furniture, while a stray show-bill or a newspaper decorate the walls.
We have come to associate crowding with homes in cities almost Of course, one small, close room in a city, exclusively. Here in Dougherty county, in without a yard, is in many respects worse the open country, is crowding enough. The than the larger single country room. rooms in these cabins are seldom over twenty The one decided advantage the Negro has or twenty-five feet square, and frequently is a place to live outside his home—that is smaller; yet one family of eleven lives, eats the open fields, where most of his life is spent. and sleeps in one room, while thirty families Ninety-four per cent. of these homes are of eight or more members live in such one- rented and the question therefore arises, what room dwellings.
in the industrial system of the Black Belt is To sum up, there are among these Negroes responsible for these wretched tenements ? over twenty-five persons for every ten rooms There would seem to be four main causes. of house accommodation. In the worst tene- First, long custom, born in the time of
place, the low standard of living among slaves is naturally inherited among freedmen and their sons; the mass of them do not demand better houses because they do not know what better houses are. Thirdly, the landlords as a class have not yet come to realize that it is a good business investment to raise the standard of living among laborers by slow and judicious methods; that a Negro laborer who demands three rooms and fifty cents a day would give far more efficient work and leave a larger profit than a discouraged toiler herding his family in one room and working for thirty cents. Lastly, among such conditions of life there are few incentives to make the laborer become a better farmer. If he is ambitious, he moves to town or tries other kinds of labor; as a
slavery, has assigned this sort of a home to Negroes, until land owners seldom think of offering better houses. Should white labor be imported here, or the capital here invested be transferred to industries where whites are employed, the owners would not hesitate to erect cosy, decent homes, such as are often found near the new cotton factories. This explains why the substitution of white for black labor is often profitable—the laborer is far better paid and cared for. In the second
A PARSON AND PART OF HIS FLOCK
tenant farmer his outlook is almost hopeless, and following it as a makeshift he takes the house that is given him without protest.
That we may see more fully the working out of these social forces, let us turn from the home to the family that lives in it. The Negroes in this country are noticeable both for large and small families; nearly a tenth of all the families are families of one—that is, lone persons living by themselves. Then, too, there is an unusual number of families of ten or more. The average family is not large, however, owing to the system of labor and the size of the homes, which tends to the separation of family groups. Then the large and continuous migration of young people to town brings down the average. So that one finds many families with hosts of babies, and
many newly-married young couples, but com- after house to house investigation, deserve to paratively few families with half-grown and be classed as decent people with considerable grown children.
regard for female chastity. The plague-spot The families of one are interesting. Some in sexual relations is easy marriage and easy of them about a fifth-are old people. separation. This is no sudden development, Away down at the edge of the woods will live some old grizzle-haired black man, digging wearily in the earth for his last bread. Or yonder, near some prosperous Negro farmer, will sit alone a swarthy auntie, fat and good-humored, supported half in charity and half by odd jobs.
Probably the size of Negro families is decreasing, and that, too, from postponement of marriage, rather than from immorality or loss of physical stamina. To-day in this county only two per cent. of the boys and sixteen per cent. of the girls under twenty are married. Most of the young men marry between
of twenty-five and thirtyfive, and the girls between twenty and thirty-an advanced age for a rural people of low average culture.
The cause of this is without doubt economic stress—the difficulty of earning sufficient to rear a family. The result is the breaking of the marriagetie and sexual looseness.
The number of separated persons is thirty-five
HUTS NEAR ALBANY, GEORGIA per 1000 a very large
Showing old mud and wood chimney number. It would of course be unfair to compare this number nor the fruit of emancipation. It is a plain with divorce statistics for many of these heritage from slavery. In those days Sam, separated are in reality widowed, were the with his master's consent, "took up " with truth known, and in other cases the sep- Mary.
Mary. No ceremony was necessary, and in aration is not permanent. Nevertheless here the busy life of great plantations of the Black lies the seat of greatest moral danger; there Belt it was usually dispensed with. If now is little or no prostitution among these Ne- the master needed Sam's work on another groes, and over four-fifths of the families, plantation or in another part of the same