A Broom & a Mop Just Won't Do
February 2, 2016
|From Sharecropper to Educator; a Forerunner for Social Change
|Brenda R. Brand
|Post slavery, sharecropping became a primary means of survival for African Americans. With no money or education, many continued doing what was familiar to them, working on a plantation, with little chance of ever getting ahead or breaking even. The sharecropping system trapped them, and unless something changed, they were destined for a life of poverty. Breaking the cycle of poverty meant taking advantage of every opportunity to advance oneself. As a child, Mary Jane Rodges had a thirst for education. Her family did not earn enough income from sharecropping to afford her school books, so she would take time during recess to read the books of children whose family could afford them to keep from getting behind, or to catch up. This pattern continued throughout her adulthood, as she took advantage of every opportunity to obtain an education in spite of the struggles in her personal life, which were many. She refused to follow a path of least resistance and spent much of her life trying to convince others of the costs of illiteracy. With much giving of her time, energy, knowledge, and resources, she was able to help many realize the freedom that comes with being educated.