New York Post

In the antebellum South, denim was called ‘Negro cloth’


Bicks and Strachan told The Post that cowboys often get credit for being the first Americans to sport dungarees, but that’s not true. Instead, slaves wore jeans and overalls, made from denim “Negro cloth,” because the heavyduty cotton weave could stand up to forced labor. Denim’s traditiona­l blue color came from indigo — a temperamen­tal tropical plant native to the Caribbean and West Africa — which the enslaved men and women, who came from these regions, taught plantation owners how to grow. “The South needed something to add to crop rotation [alongside cotton, tobacco and rice],” denim expert Evan Morrison says in the film. “Adding indigo into your crop rotation was a way to add additional profit.”

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