How This Racist Clause Kept Black People From Voting

map of the united states
Via Picryl
Cydney Smith
August 31, 2022

The Reconstruction Era was when Black people flourished and took ownership of their legalized freedom. After the 14th and 15th amendments were passed, this period saw relatively open voting practices. 

But this was to the detriment of white supremacy.

Seeing Black folks participate in democracy and win elections was a threat. So white lawmakers plotted a scheme to suppress Black voters.

Southern states created hurdles for Black people to jump over, such as poll taxes and literacy tests, to eliminate the Black vote. 

But in creating these obstacles, they soon ran into a problem: many white voters–poor and illiterate–couldn’t pay taxes or pass these tests either!

The “Grandfather Clause” was created to work around this issue. This clause allowed any person to vote if their father or grandfather was qualified to vote before January 1, 1867.

Before this date, free Black people still didn’t have the right to vote – so they were excluded. White people were thus exempt from taxes and tests, but Black people weren’t.

The Grandfather Clause was a despicable attempt to quell Black voting power. Many lawmakers today are descendants of those grandfathers–and we still see the disenfranchisement and suppression of Black voters today.

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