Black suffrage

black people's right to vote.

Black suffrage refers to black people's right to vote and has long been an issue in countries established under conditions of black minorities.


  • Let the black man vote when he is fit to vote; prohibit the white man voting when he is unfit to vote.
    • Warren G. Harding, speech delivered to a segregated, mixed race audience at Woodrow Wilson Park in Birmingham, Alabama on the occasion of the city's semicentennial, published in the Birmingham Post (27 October 1921) quoted in Political Power in Birmingham, 1871-1921 (1977) by Carl V. Harris (1977) University of Tennessee Press, ISBN 087049211X.
  • Let us not commit ourselves to the absurd and senseless dogma that the color of the skin shall be the basis of suffrage, the talisman of liberty. I admit that it is perilous to confer the franchise upon the ignorant and degraded; but if an educational test cannot be established, let suffrage be extended to all men of proper age, regardless of color. It may well be questioned whether the negro does not understand the nature of our institutions better than the equally ignorant foreigner. He was intelligent enough to understand from the beginning of the war that the destiny of his race was involved in it. He was intelligent enough to be true to that Union which his educated and traitorous master was endeavoring to destroy. He came to us in the hour of our sorest need, and by his aid, under God, the republic was saved. Shall we now be guilty of the unutterable meanness, not only of thrusting him beyond the pale of its blessings, but of committing his destiny to the tender mercies of those pardoned rebels who have been so reluctantly compelled to take their feet from his neck and their hands from his throat? But someone says it is dangerous at this time to make new experiments. I answer, it is always safe to do justice. However, to grant suffrage to the black man in this country is not innovation, but restoration. It is a return to the ancient principles and practices of the fathers.
  • The act of registering to vote does several things. It marks the beginning of political modernization by broadening the base of participation. It also does something the existentialists talk about: it gives one a sense of being. The black man who goes to register is saying to the white man, “No.” He is saying: “You have said that I cannot vote. You have said that this is my place. This is where I should remain. You have contained me and I am saying ‘No’ to your containment. I am stepping out of bounds. I am saying ‘No’ to you and thereby I am creating a better life for myself. I am resisting someone who has contained me.” That is what the first act does. The black person begins to live. He begins to create his own existence when he says “No” to someone who contains him. But obviously this is not enough. Once the black man has knocked back centuries of fear, once he is willing to resist, he then must decide how best to use that vote. To listen to those whites who conspired for so many years to deny him the ballot would be a return to that previous subordinated condition. He must move independently. The development of this awareness is a job as tedious and laborious as inspiring people to register in the first place. In fact, many people who would aspire to the role of an organizer drop off simply because they do not have the energy, the stamina, to knock on doors day after day. That is why one finds many such people sitting in coffee shops talking and theorizing instead of organizing.

See also

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