The trend of American history has been to expand and make easier the basic right of a citizen: voting. The 20th century saw the right to vote expanded to women and to 18-year-olds, while laws and court actions mid-century stripped away Jim Crow provisions that shut out the ballot to many black people.
Before and after
Recently, the Mathews County Historical Society published online a list of the first African American voters in Mathews County, those who registered in 1867, the first year in which they could cast a ballot. The list, with 327 names, can be found on the society’s website, mathewscountyhistoricalsociety.org.
At that time, 327 voters (all male, as women did not yet have the right to cast ballots) accounted for 15 percent of the county’s African American population.
It’s an enlightening glimpse into the years just after the Civil War, before Jim Crow laws were enacted.
What happened after Jim Crow, specifically the 1902 Virginia Constitution which enacted a p...
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