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Black Votes Count

Political Empowerment in Mississippi after 1965

Frank R. Parker and Eddie N. Williams

Publication Year: 1990

Most Americans see the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as the culmination of the civil rights movement. When the law was enacted, black voter registration in Mississippi soared. Few black candidates won office, however. In this book, Frank Parker describes black Mississippians' battle for meaningful voting rights, bringing the story up to 1986, when Mike Espy was elected as Mississippi's first black member of Congress in this century. To nullify the impact of the black vote, white Mississippi devised a political "massive resistance" strategy, adopting such disenfranchising devices as at@-large elections, racial gerrymandering, making elective offices appointive, and revising the qualifications for candidates for public office. As legal challenges to these mechanisms mounted, Mississippi once again became the testing ground for deciding whether the promises of the Fifteenth Amendment would be fulfilled, and Parker describes the court battles that ensued until black voters obtained relief. Most Americans see the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as the culmination of the civil rights movement. When the law was enacted, black voter registration in Mississippi soared. Few black candidates won office, however. In this book, Frank Parker describes black Mississippians' battle for meaningful voting rights, bringing the story up to 1986, when Mike Espy was elected as Mississippi's first black member of Congress in this century. To nullify the impact of the black vote, white Mississippi devised a political "massive resistance" strategy, adopting such disenfranchising devices as at–large elections, racial gerrymandering, making elective offices appointive, and revising the qualifications for candidates for public office. As legal challenges to these mechanisms mounted, Mississippi once again became the testing ground for deciding whether the promises of the Fifteenth Amendment would be fulfilled, and Parker describes the court battles that ensued until black voters obtained relief. Most Americans see the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as the culmination of the civil rights movement. When the law was enacted, black voter registration in Mississippi soared. Few black candidates won office, however. In this book, Frank Parker describes black Mississippians' battle for meaningful voting rights, bringing the story up to 1986, when Mike Espy was elected as Mississippi's first black member of Congress in this century.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-6

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Tables

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pp. ix-x

Maps and Figures

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pp. xi-xii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

This book was begun while I was at the Joint Center for Political Studies as a MacArthur Foundation Distinguished Scholar. I am indebted to President Eddie N. Williams, Research Director Milton D. Morris, and the staff at the Joint Center for their hospitality and support ...

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Foreword

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pp. xv-xviii

Few events in American political life have had as profound or as far-reaching consequences as has passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That law ended a century of denial to blacks of the most basic right of American citizenship-the right to vote. ...

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Introduction: The Quest for Black Political Equality in Mississippi

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pp. 1-14

Since 1965 America has witnessed a renaissance of black political participation. Nationwide, more than 12 million black Americans are registered to vote. The number of black elected officials has increased about fourteenfold, from about 500 in 1965 to more than 7,200 in 1989.1 ...

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1. Mississippi in 1965: The Struggle for the Right to Vote

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pp. 15-33

From the summer of 1962 to the spring of 1963, Leflore County, a predominantly black county in the Mississippi Delta in northwest Mississippi, was the testing ground for democracy for the civil rights movement. The Leflore County voter registration campaign was part of a massive effort of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), ...

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2. Mississippi's Massive Resistance to Black Political Empowerment

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pp. 34-77

As early as 1958 Mississippi's leading newspaper, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, urged the "custodians of Mississippi's 'white supremacy' machinery" to "take a serious, studied look" at the racial composition of the state's congressional districts "in view of the NAACP's vigorous drive for Negro voting rights." ...

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3. The Judicial Response to Massive Resistance: Allen v. State Board of Elections

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pp. 78-101

Given the disappointing results of the 1967 elections, it was evident that black leaders and voters in Mississippi would be able to expand their small political gains only if they could eliminate the discriminatory structural barriers imposed by the legislature in 1966. But how could such a reform be accomplished? ...

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4. The Struggle against Discriminatory Legislative Redistricting

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pp. 102-129

If black voters in Mississippi were to achieve any political progress in post-1965 Mississippi, changing the all-white composition of the state legislature was critical. The state legislature was one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, of all the institutions dedicated to the preservation of white supremacy and racial segregation in Mississippi. ...

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5. The Impact of the Struggle for Black Political Participation on Mississippi Politics

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pp. 130-166

On March 26, 1987, Speaker C. B. "Buddie" Newman of the Mississippi House of Representatives announced that he was stepping down as Speaker, a position he had held since 1976. "I just think it's best for Mississippi if I get out of the way," Newman commented.1 ...

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6. The Impact of Mississippi Litigation on National Voting Rights Law

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pp. 167-197

Today the Voting Rights Act is widely viewed as the most successful piece of civil rights legislation ever enacted by Congress. This is true not only because it enfranchised millions of black voters throughout the South who previously were denied the right to vote and subsequently was extended ...

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7. Race and Mississippi Politics: Changes and Continuities

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pp. 198-210

Historically, race has been the central theme of Mississippi politics. Writing in 1949, political scientist V. O. Key, Jr., concluded that "the beginning and the end of Mississippi politics is the Negro."1 This author has surveyed elements of the racial politics of Mississippi for the past thirty years, ...

Notes

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pp. 211-236

Bibliography

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pp. 237-246

Index

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pp. 247-254


E-ISBN-13: 9781469603315
E-ISBN-10: 1469603314
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807819012
Print-ISBN-10: 0807819018

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 1990