AFROCENTRIC POST-SLAVERY VOTING (43)
As a “Closet” racist, freeing the Enslaved never was President’s Lincoln’s concern. Black People stepped out of the bottomless pit of slavery’s hell into an equated post-emancipation’s hell because of the escalating evilness of Supernaturals. Reconstruction Amendments generated even more ambiguity inside Black–White race relations–meaning keeping “Blacks in their place” had added enforcement difficulties. Poor Whites, from being left behind, were rebellious and launched violent retaliations against Blacks. This same attitude of many low-class Whites spurs their vote today for politicians who promise favors but are actually also against them. While 4 million Enslaved were freed following the Civil War (in 1865), rebuilding the South during the Reconstruction period (1865-1877) introduced many complex situations. In 1865-1866, President Andrew Johnson’s new southern state legislatures passed restrictive “Black Codes” to control labor and behavior aspects of all African Americans. During Radical Reconstruction, newly enfranchised Blacks gained a voice in government for the first time in American history, winning election to southern state legislatures and even to the U.S. Congress. In less than a decade, however, reactionary forces–including the Ku Klux Klan–reversed all of Black People’s improvements in a violent backlash to restore Southern White Supremacy. For slave owners to lose 4 million bonded workers caused profound turmoil in the South’s economic and political structure and thus all new laws were modified forms of slavery for Black People. This was greatly speeded with the withdrawal of the Northern troops from the South. Whites regained control of the State governments and virtually disenfranchised the mass of Negroes–initially through intimidation and other illegal practices like the “Grandfather Clause (giving the right to vote only to those who could vote on Jan. 1, 1867 or to their descendants)–and later through constitutional amendments.
Southern states’ practices in maintaining the disenfranchisement of African Americans and sometimes Latinos and American Indians–during and after Reconstruction–killed many racial minorities. Others had to pass Literacy Tests to vote–the first formal tests being introduced in 1890. They were administered orally by White local officials who had complete discretion over who passed and who failed. Examples of test questions: name all sixty-seven county judges in the state; name the date on which Oklahoma was admitted to the Union; and how many bubbles are in a bar of soap. The point was to intimidate and turn away powered minority people from the polls. Between 1890 and 1910, eleven Southern states adopted special requirements for voting designed to deny Blacks the franchise. One, the Poll Tax, required citizens to pay a special tax—sometimes retroactively–for the privilege of voting. Some Blacks were required to show poll tax receipts for a number of years. A frequent device was to give Blacks only a day for registration—a day when White officials were not available. Educational Tests were sometimes stipulated. By asking Black People for registration questions concerning the government–which they could not possibly answer–officials could keep them off the list. As often as any method, White Southerners resorted to Intimidation and Violence for purposes of preventing Negroes from voting. There were numerous instances of Blacks waiting in lines prolonged times to register or to vote but then were driven away, beaten up, or killed. Or, intimidation was with White officials saying: “yes, you can register but keep in mind that you can get killed for doing so.”
One handbill scattered around town in 1932 said: “Nigger! The white people do not want you to vote Saturday. Do not make the Ku Klux Klan take a hand. Do you remember what happened two years ago in May? A Nigger was burned to death for trying to vote…?” Election day riots in which both Whites and Blacks were killed occurred in various sections of the South until relatively recently. Similar, but tempered, voting problems for Blacks continue to this day–electronic malfunctions, no paper ballots, long lines with no restrooms, not enough optical scanning machines, not counting absentee ballots (which are the last counted), fears of being arrested, putting polling places at long distances away; no Sunday voting hours; and being told about voting only on the day after. In the 1960s, Black rebellion–in the form of Picketing, Boycotting, and “Block” Voting–rose into peaceful and public protests. The aim of such rebellions was about independence and equality. jabaileymd.com
Joseph A. Bailey II, MD, FACS
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