South Carolina African Americans – Literacy Tests to Eliminate Black Voters
Also see: African-Americans - Reconstruction - 1865-1900 Main Page
Written by Michael Trinkley of the Chicora Foundation
Article 2, Section 6 of South Carolina's constitution of 1895 specified that, "The General Assembly may require each person to demonstrate a reasonably ability, except for physical disability, to read and write the English language as a condition to becoming entitled to vote."
The legislature established provisions that seemed neutral on their face:
Some have said there is fraud in this understanding clause. Some poisons in small doses are very salutary and valuable medicines. If you put it in here that a man must understand, and you vest the right to judge whether he understands in an officer, it is a constitutional act. That officer is responsible to his conscience and his God, he is responsible to nobody else. There is no particle of fraud or illegality in it. It is just simply showing partiality, perhaps, discriminating.And discriminate it did – virtually eliminating the black electorate.
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