What to know
On a hot summer day in July 1934, eighteen farmers – eleven white and seven black—made history by coming together just outside Tyronza, Arkansas, to form the first fully integrated agricultural union in the country. Later, women assumed leadership positions as well. Much of the union’s business was conducted at the business establishment of two of its organizers, H. L. Mitchell and Clay East, until threats of violence forced them to relocate their headquarters to Memphis.
Today, Mitchell’s dry cleaning business and East’s service station, along with the adjacent former Bank of Tyronza, have been renovated by Arkansas State University to serve as the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum. Photographs, oral histories and artifacts tell the stories of sharecropping, tenant farming and agricultural labor movements, including the history of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. This organization is regarded as a forerunner to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
The Southern Tenant Farmers Museum is an attraction along the Sunken Lands Cultural Roadway and serves as the trailhead for the Tour duh Sunken Lands annual cultural cycling event.