I walked around feeling, in a sense, that people of color, we began at the bottom of a slave ship. We were enslaved; we picked cotton. There was Honest Abe, who wore a top hat and was taller than anyone and who said, 'Enough is enough; slavery must end.' And then, black people could stand up again. But after that, we didn't catch up.
My grandmother, who picked cotton, and my mom, who picked cotton as a child - my grandmother had a work ethic. She had 13 children that she had to raise and ended up for a time moving into the projects, but because my grandmother had a work ethic, she didn't stay in the projects... that's not how she wanted to raise her children.
The usual way of growing cotton is highly petrochemical-intensive, requiring 110 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer per acre. Some of the fertilizer is broken down by soil bacteria into nitrate, a toxic and highly soluble chemical that can leach into groundwater or get washed into lakes, creating oxygenless dead zones.