Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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One old way of keeping Black people from voting still works

Jamelle Bouie writes:

This is the story of how a bill to save the vote and preserve a semblance of democracy for millions of Americans died at the hands of an intransigent, reactionary minority in the Senate, which used the filibuster to do its dirty work.

In the summer of 1890, the state of Mississippi held its second constitutional convention of the post-Civil War era. The first, in 1868, was an attempt to make biracial democracy a reality. This second was meant to be the final nail in its coffin.

White elites, working within the Democratic Party, had already toppled the state’s Republican-led Reconstruction government in 1876. “The Mississippi Democrats had conducted a classical counterrevolutionary crusade,” the historian George C. Rable writes in “But There Was No Peace: The Role of Violence in the Politics of Reconstruction.”

While publicly professing peaceful intentions, Democrats selectively used armed intimidation to destroy the Republican Party in the counties by keeping Black voters away or forcing them to vote Democratic.

Angry whites, Rable continues, “engaged in terrorist activities with seeming impunity.” [Continue reading…]

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