As we fought for our voting rights in the 1960s, we were attacked by dogs, sprayed with water hoses, and murdered. But there was something else sinister happening that didn’t get much attention at first.
When our people in Tennessee farming communities decided to register to vote, they too were met with racist opposition. Instead of using violence, racists whites who owned the majority of stores, housing, and land simply refused to serve our people!
It was a struggle to survive. The vast majority of Blacks were sharecroppers, so this meant they lost their housing, too. But not all was lost.
Black landowners and business owners worked together to set up tent cities for those who lost their homes for trying to register to vote.
These tent cities were crowded, and often filled with knee-deep mud when it rained. Many Black families lived there for YEARS. But they kept our people on voting rolls and created power for southern Black voters!
These tent cities inspired the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibited voter intimidation of all kinds, including economic retaliation.
When we cooperate with each other, we can overcome anything – including white oppression and terrorism!