Author Chronicles History of Voting Rights

By Healy, Dennis | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), January 29, 2017 | Go to article overview

Author Chronicles History of Voting Rights


Healy, Dennis, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


The recent election cycle produced unfounded claims of voter fraud, findings of voter suppression and ongoing battles against the efforts to deny voters their right to vote.

"The Voting Rights War: The NAACP and the Ongoing Struggle for Justice," by Gloria J. Browne-Marshall (2016), provides a historical perspective on the courageous efforts of one organization to ensure voting rights to eligible voters despite the often violent opposition by those determined to deny those rights.

Browne-Marshall traces the founding of the NAACP in 1909 to several historical events. In 1857, Supreme Court's Dred Scott Decision stripped African Americans of constitutional rights. In 1877, Reconstruction ended when President Hayes withdrew the federal army's protection of African Americans in the Confederate South. In 1896, the Supreme Court's Plessy vs. Ferguson decision allowed the "separate but equal" doctrine to further discrimination.

In addition to these landmark events, Browne-Marshall mentions the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and repressive state policies that were designed to keep African Americans from voting.

While the NAACP focused on all civil rights for African Americans, the right to vote became a major concern. In particular, southern states avoided federal scrutiny by establishing grandfather clauses, assessing poll taxes, administering literacy tests and requiring various forms of identification to prevent African Americans from voting. Browne-Marshall notes that the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, established in 1939, and led by future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, worked tirelessly to protect the civil rights of its constituents.

Browne-Marshall covers the violence and hatred that was visited on those who worked for change during the Civil Rights Movement. …

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