Slavery In America: Meet Man Who Grows Cotton In Harlem

Willie Morgan, a native of Georgia, has taken up the responsibility of teaching the younger generation about slavery in America by growing cotton in Harlem.

The true story of slavery in America is gradually losing its value as the story has been twisted and turned in many ways to sway the public. This situation has left many; especially kids in the dark when it comes to the history of slavery in the United States. This might be the motivating factor for Willie Morgan to have started his mini cotton plantation to use as a means of illustrating and teaching the kids in his vicinity about slavery. The cotton farm initiated by the Georgian native in 2005 has already gained the attention of many in Harlem and beyond. This interesting method of teaching has been an eye opener for many kids whom previously didn’t know the real struggle of Black people during the era of slavery. How did Morgan go about his innovative method of teaching? Find out how as you read further.


The name of the 1970 Ossie Davis-directed Blaxploitation film, Cotton Comes To Harlem, has taken on a new twist in 2016.

Willie Morgan, who hails from Georgia, grows actual cotton in Harlem to teach children in his neighborhood about slavery in America. Cotton, of course, was the cash crop that allowed the United States to flourish in capitalism during the 19th century. The free labor of enslaved people allowed the country’s economy to grow by leaps and bounds.

“I tell the kids … that the jeans they’re wearing come from cotton. They don’t know anything about it,” he said in a recent interview with the Independent. “I give them the cotton and they can take it into their classes.”

Morgan began planting his cotton plants in 2005, and they now sit right at an iconic Harlem statue of Harriet Tubman at the junction of 122nd Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard.

“This is what slavery was about. They did not have machines. They needed people to pick it…[That way] they know about the cotton, they know what their forefathers did,” he said.

Morgan plants the seeds in June, and harvests them in September and October. He also plants peanuts, collard greens, okra, onions and stevia in his own plot of land not too far from the statue of Harriet, also known as Black Moses.

Morgan has been in Harlem since 1969, and today has six customers he shares his bounty with. Fox5 also notes that he is a chef and runs a small catering business.

Alas, many of those neighbors have been forced out with the rising prices of rent happening in Harlem, and all over New York City.

“The prices are going up,” Morgan says ruefully. “They are putting up more buildings than ever.” Read more.

The story of slavery in America needs to be told. It is an obvious fact that until a person is fully aware of his or her history; the future might remain a mystery. The younger generation needs to know what their forefathers went through to make America what it is today. The Black slaves have contributed immensely to the prosperity of today’s America. All the goodies the country enjoys today came as a result of the work done by the free labour of enslaved Black people.

Morgan’s approach is quite practical and will really help the kids truly understand and get a first-hand experience of the level of toil their ancestors had to go through.

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