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Southern Peonage

by Joe Jones

Jones moved from St. Louis to New York City in 1935, and racial justice continued to be a subject that interested him.

Southern Peonage depicts the stereotype of a brutal overseer wielding a whip and blackjack as he persecutes a prostrate black man. The figure on the right prodding another field worker in the back with his rifle is a caricature of an almost demonic young boy.

Peonage is a system of servitude based on the indebtedness of the laborer (peon) to his creditor. It was prevalent in South America and after the Civil War, also existed in the United States, especially in the most southern states. 

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Joe Jones -Southern Peonage

Joe Jones, Southern Peonage, 1937. Lithograph, 11 x 14 ½ in.

Museum Purchase, Derby Fund, from the Philip J. and Suzanne Schiller Collection of American Social Commentary Art 1930-1970

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