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Remembering The Literacy Test Given to Blacks in Order to Vote in the 1960’s. Would You Have Passed?

voting_rights_1960By Malcolm Morrow

The website BuzzFeed.com posted an article on Monday with scans of an actual Louisiana literacy test that was given to people of color during the 1960’s. This was done in response to the Supreme Court striking down Section 4(b) in the Voting Rights Act which required nine states with a history of racial discrimination to inform the Federal government and receive permission before changing any of its state laws regarding an individual’s right to vote.

During the era of racial discrimination, known as Jim Crow, there were many forms used to insure that people of color didn’t receive the rights that were afforded to Whites. One of the tools used to keep people of color from gaining a voice in politics was the literacy test. Literacy test were given to Blacks at the polls and were used to deny them their right to vote.

The test consists of 30 questions that contained typos and were deliberately constructed to cause confusion and it had to be taken in just ten short minutes. One wrong answer negated the whole test and insured that the individual would not be allowed to vote. For a look at the test itself, check it out here http://www.buzzfeed.com/briangalindo/could-you-pass-the-literacy-test-given-to-black-voters-in-th.

It is puzzling to me that the Supreme Court decided to take away such a critical component of the Voting Rights Act at time when states are trying to impose new laws pertaining to voting that would severely impede on the rights of poor citizens.

BrennanCenter.org provided a glimpse at what has been happening in the country just last year, yet the Supreme Court claims that Section 4(b) is an outdated piece of legislation from days gone by. Here’s the whole story http://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/election-2012-voting-laws-roundup.

According to BrennanCenter.org, “25 laws and 2 executive actions passed since the beginning of 2011 in 19 states(Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin). 15 states have passed restrictive voting laws and executive actions that have the potential to impact the 2012 election (Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin). These states account for 203 electoral votes, or 75 percent of the total needed to win the presidency.”

If all of that has happened with government approval, just imagine what these states have planned now that they no longer need permission to make such changes.

2 Responses to Remembering The Literacy Test Given to Blacks in Order to Vote in the 1960’s. Would You Have Passed?

  1. David L. Frank Reply

    July 7, 2013 at 8:01 am

    In order to change the wrongs that are being done in the present day the people wronged must be willing to make necessary changes in the way that they interact in the society where they are being wronged.
    One necessary change is the way that we spend our consumer dollars. We must discontinue sending mixed signals.
    You can’t complain how much you are being mistreated verbally 24/7, yet we keep faithfully patronizing the same entities that are directly, or indirectly involved in our demise.
    What we do to so-call release our stress, and anxiety equates to supporting, and patronizing entities that put nothing back into our communities. Do you want to count Billboard advertisements?
    How long does a person continue to bake a cake for a neighbor who as time goes on is no longer considerate , or respectable to you and everyone in your household? What signal does it send that no matter how much they disrespect you that you show up at their door with their favorite cake you baked for them?
    How long does one person pinch themselves , and passionately complain about the pain yet they keep right on pinching themselves.
    Have we as a people become so spoiled that we can’t deny ourselves some temporary pleasures in order to secure, and maintain the resources , and demand that we be treated with dignity.
    We boast about the gains that the previous generations have made to make more opportunities available for the present generation, yet we are slipping backwards to the degree that our children will be starting close to where the generations before us had to start.
    We must shed this comfortable state of denial that internally we have found nirvana, and get back to maintaining what gains that were made, and implementing new strategies for advancement to give the next generation a running start.

  2. william Reply

    July 6, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Our Ancestors would have never allowed this to happend. Because they had self pride…I’m a shame of our Black political people who would allowed this stuff to go on with out a fight.

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