IMAGES OF LIFE IN THE BLACK BELT UNDER PELLEY In 1936, the rubber-stamp Congress approved the 'Black Belt Act' which on the surface, turned areas with African-American majorities into their own independent communities with their own public services, similar to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. However, in reality, this act was designed to disenfranchise African-Americans from further participating in the national life of their fellow Americans, with which they no longer shared citizenship. The following images are from several of these communities throughout the Black Belt. In the state of Alabama, a African-American mother is teaching basic arithmetic and literacy to her children. This type of education was permitted by the Commonwealth as it was decided that 'Negroes can't rebel if all they can do is count to 10'. Teaching them basic literacy was also permitted, if only so it was easy for them to obey instructions. This is a image from Mississippi of a group of under-eighteen Negroes working on a farm in the 1940s. The Commonwealth's media derisively referred to these people as 'Huck Finns' due to their age, ironic, considering that the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, respectively, were banned under the Commonwealth. As a side effect of the Black Belt Act, many whites were stuck in regions nominally controlled by African-Americans. This image is of a such unfortunate family and their dog in Eastern Texas. In the Commonwealth, depicting images of whites living in the Black Belt was considered a crime against the state. The type of 'accommodations' a African-American could expect living in the Black Belt. One of the few benefits of living in the Black Belt as a African American was that black children could acquire some form of education, whether it's legal or not. Teaching Negroes to read was illegal if it exceeded the education mandated by the Commonwealth. The education depicted in this image in the state of Georgia falls into that category.