Monday, September 29, 2008

African American Voting: A Retrospective

"As of 1901, nearly every African American had been effectively stripped of all elective rights in Alabama and virtually every southern state. After passage of a new state constitution in 1901, Alabama allowed the registration only of voters who could read or write and were regularly employed, or who owned property valued at $300 or more- a measure clearly aimed at complete elimination of Blacks from voting. In Mississippi, only those who were able to pay a poll tax of up to $3 and who could, according to the voting registrar's personal assessment, read or understand any clause in the U.S. Constitution could register. Louisiana permitted only those who could read and write or owned at least $300 worth of property. (However, any person who could vote on January 1, 1867, or his descendants, was allowed to continue voting regardless of reading skills. This literal 'grandfather clause' guaranteed continued voting rights for illiterate and impoverished Whites).

South Carolina required literacy or property ownership. North Carolina charged a $2 poll tax and required the ability to read. Virginia, after 1904, allowed to vote only those who had paid their annual $1 poll tax in each of the three years prior to an election and who could fill out a registration form without assistance. Veterans from either the armies of the Union or the Confederacy were exempted of the requirements- though few of the thousands of African Americans who fought in the Union army were acknowledged as veterans." - From, "Slavery By Another Name" By: Douglas A. Blackmon

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