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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Colored Farmers' Alliance

by Helen Losse, 2006

The Colored Farmers' Alliance was created when an agricultural depression hit the South around 1870 and farmers began to organize themselves into radical political groups. It paralleled the white Southern Farmers' Alliance, whose membership was closed to blacks. Originating in Arkansas and spreading to 20 states, mostly in the South, the Colored Farmers' Alliance had more than 1.12 million members by 1891. At that time it became overtly political, rather than remaining the nominally political labor organization that it had been earlier. As a result of the Fusion movement, in which primarily black Republicans and white Populists cooperated politically, blacks were elected to office at both the state and national levels. Fusion in North Carolina reached its peak in 1894, when these groups gained control of the state government. It was not long, however, before black-white cooperation ended, as Democrats united in successful white supremacy campaigns to oust the Fusionists and discontinue "Negro rule."


Lerone Bennett Jr., Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America (1993).

John Hope Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans (1994).

Hugh T. Lefler and Albert R. Newsome, North Carolina: The History of a Southern State (3rd ed., 1973).

Additional Resources:

Ali, Omar H. In the Lion's Mouth: Black Populism in the New South, 1886-1900.  Jackson, Miss.: University Press of Mississippi, 2010.

Edmonds, Helen G. 1951. The Negro and fusion politics in North Carolina, 1894-1901. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.