© 2013

Sharecropper’s Troubadour

John L. Handcox, the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union, and the African American Song Tradition

  • Authors

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Oral History book series (PSOH)

Table of contents

About this book


Folk singer and labor organizer John Handcox was born to illiterate sharecroppers, but went on to become one of the most beloved folk singers of the prewar labor movement. This beautifully told oral history gives us Handcox in his own words, recounting a journey that began in the Deep South and went on to shape the labor music tradition.


Africa African America freedom happening history history of literature liberty literature memory music tradition

About the authors

Michael Honey is the Fred T. and Dorothy G. Haley Endowed Professor of the Humanities at The University of Washington, USA, and was a 2011 Guggenheim fellow. He is author of numerous award-winning books on labor, race relations, and Southern history, including Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign (Norton, 2007). His interviews and writing regularly appear in national media such as The Atlantic, NPR/Fresh Air, The Nation, History News Network, ColorLines, and many other print and digital publications.

Bibliographic information


“In Sharecropper’s Troubadour, Michael Honey has deftly recovered the remarkable story of John Handcox. Honey provides a powerful and compelling account that takes Handcox’s personal and family story and intertwines it with the STFU’s fight against the racism and economic exploitation of southern sharecropping. … By using oral history, Honey allows the rich and deep nuances of the personal perspective that makes history so compelling to rise to the fore. … Sharecropper’s Troubadour is an outstanding work.” (Scott Holzer, Missouri Historical Review, Vol. 110 (4), July, 2016)