Two steps forward, one step back

by | Sep 9, 2016 | Civil Rights, Editor's Blog, NC Politics, Voting Rights | 16 comments

For a brief period following the Civil War and Reconstruction, African-Americans enjoyed voting rights similar  to those of white people. They elected mayors, legislators, and even Congressmen. They were all Republicans because Lincoln freed the slaves.

By the end of the 19th century, though, white supremacist campaigns, including a coup d’etat in Wilmington, led by Democrats to disenfranchise African-Americans and introduced the era of Jim Crow. African-Americans lost the right to vote through poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather laws, and other means of keeping them from the ballot box. Republicans lost their governing partners and were relegated to pockets of power—mainly in the mountains and a Quaker-belt in central North Carolina.

Democrats ruled the state continuously until 1972. However, the one party was split between factions that began to surface over race and civil rights. Conservative Democrats started leaving the party after Harry Truman integrated the armed forces in the late 1940s. By 1964, the conservative wing was in full revolt after Johnson pushed through the Civil Rights Act of 1964. By 1972, the leaders of the conservative wing had left the Democratic Party completely because of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the integration of the public school system. They joined the Republican Party that had built a coalition of business conservatives centered in Charlotte and the traditional mountain and Quaker-belt Republicans.

Large numbers of African-Americans started to vote again in North Carolina in the late 1960s. They joined the Democratic Party because Johnson pushed through Civil Rights reforms. The new Democratic coalition became progressive white voters who supported New Deal principals and civil rights and the newly voting African-Americans.

However, into the 1990s, African-Americans still were not voting at levels that matched their percentage of the population or voter registration. Following the Civil War, they were never given any compensation for their years of bondage and servitude. Until the early 1970s, they were denied access to schools that had the same advantages as the ones that served white people. Consequently, they faced, and continue to face, unique barriers to upward mobility and were disproportionally mired in poverty, especially in rural areas.

Poor African-Americans lacked transportation, held jobs that didn’t allow for time off for voting and had higher rates of illiteracy than the population as a whole. All of these factors contributed to their low voting numbers. So, about 30 years after the Voting Rights Act, Democrats in North Carolina decided to try to remedy the situation by making access to voting easier for African-Americans. It worked. By the mid-2000s, African-Americans were voting at the same rate as their registration.

The voting laws passed by Democrats in the 1990s were actually a fulfillment of the promise of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The GOP’s attempt to limit access to the polls proves the Supreme Court was misguided in its decision to strike down the “heart of the Voting Rights Act.” The GOP in North Carolina clearly knows that the impact of restricting access to polls disproportionally affects a population that’s been systematically discriminated against for almost the entire history of our nation. That’s a violation of the ideals that make this country great.


  1. Ebrun

    Alberto, now you gone and upset the doctrinaire liberals who think this blog is their exclusive bailiwick to parrot leftist propaganda and make up outrageous assertions about their political opponents, They just don’t appreciate any one who presents them with a dose of political reality.

  2. Alberto Inez

    A common theme appears to be helping the terrorist, terrorize:

    INDEPENDENTS: Obama admin openly gave IRAN 1.7 billion in untraceable cash. And the agreement freed up other sanction monies that would NOT have otherwise been released, up to 33 Billion that was also given in untraceable cash and gold. The untraceable cash was used versus documented methods to prevent tracking to determine if the money will be used for terror activity against the U.S. Iran has showed their appreciation by continuing to kidnap American citizens and torment the U.S. military.

    DECODING HILLARY’S E-MAILS: Hillary has disclosed plans to bring 550,000 to probably millions of undocumented refugees to the U.S., because the president by law sets the amount admitted each year. Terror sympathizing countries and Saudi Arabia have given tens of millions in donations to the Clintons’ Foundation. The intentions of terror sympathizing countries are to spread terrorism to the U.S. and use Hillary’s Oval office and influence over taxpayer’s money to pay for it. Saudi Arabia refuses to take in any Syrian refugees because the risks of terrorism are too high and the closed-door policy helps spread terrorist to the west.

    Obama’s policies have contributed to the MASSACRE of Boston, Orlando and possibly San Bernardino communities. Under Obama’s directives, SUPPRESSING INFORMATION about religious ties to terrorism was based on fear of offending a religious lobby. Obama has given the religious lobby controls over the feds ability to document accurately. And this has deterred federal obligations to monitor religious radicals living in the U.S. As evidence by, the FBI interviewed the Boston bombers twice and the Orlando shooter was interviewed 3 times prior to the terror attacks…

    • Jay Ligon

      Your tin foil hat fell off, and you need to find it quickly.

      • Chris Telesca

        A common response from conservaDem apologists is to bring up the tin-foil hat issue.

        Another way to look at it is to say these things are either a conspiracy (done on purpose in such a way to mask real intentions) or done by incompetents. So if it’s not a conspiracy, it’s incompetence. Neither way looks very good for the people doing whatever it is that’s being done.

        • Jay Ligon

          You believe that President Obama and Hillary Clinton support Islamic terrorism in this country? ” …helping the terrorists, terrorize.”

          That would explain why you want to prevent Democrats from holding office.

          Is conservaDem a word you invented? Is that someone to the right of Karl Marx?

          • Christopher Lizak

            How the US helped Create ISIS and Al Qaeda:


            “America is using ISIS in three ways: to attack its enemies in the Middle East, to serve as a pretext for U.S. military intervention abroad, and at home to foment a manufactured domestic threat, used to justify the unprecedented expansion of invasive domestic surveillance.

            By rapidly increasing both government secrecy and surveillance, Mr. Obama’s government is increasing its power to watch its citizens, while diminishing its citizens’ power to watch their government. Terrorism is an excuse to justify mass surveillance, in preparation for mass revolt.”

    • Apply Liberally

      ATTENTION Alberto: Your pilot light is flickering. Get some counseling.

  3. Jay Ligon

    Excellent background article explaining how we got to here. Thank you.

    Voting by mail would cure so many of the problems – taking time off work, access to voting machines and arranging transportation. It allows the voter to take the time to sit at the kitchen table and spend as much time as necessary to research the candidates. You can discuss it with your family and look up facts as needed.

    • Chris Telesca

      It’s also the most fraud-prone type of voting out there. Vote-buying is a problem you don’t have with in-person voting. And with all VBM, an employer can demand you bring and fill in your ballot during your annual employee evaluation. And it takes longer to count and certify the canvass for VBM/ABM. Remember that it took California nearly a month to certify the canvas for the June 2016 primary. VBM has other problems – like fraudulently switching in-person voters to VBM after the mailing date – leaving them disenfranchised with provisional ballots. We’d need lots more safeguards than we have now.

    • Elizabeth Bennet

      Here are a few historical facts: Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution officially abolished slavery in 1864. Of the 118 Republicans in Congress, all 118 voted in favor of the legislation, while only 19 out of 82 Democrats voted in favor of it.
      The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments guaranteed rights of citizenship and voting to black males. Not ONE Democrat voted in favor of either the Fourteenth or Fifteenth Amendments.
      DEMOCRATS FILIBUSTERED THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT: On June 10, 1964, Everett Dirksen, the Republican Leader in the U.S. Senate, condemned the Democrats’ 57-day filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Leading the Democrats in their opposition to civil rights for black Americans was Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV). Byrd, who got into politics as a recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan, spoke against the bill for fourteen straight hours. Democrats to this day refer to Robert Byrd as “the conscience of the Senate.” In his speech, Senator Dirksen called on the Democrats to end their filibuster and accept racial equality.
      Ohio’s Republican Rep. William McCulloch had a conservative track record — he opposed foreign and federal education aid and supported gun rights and school prayer. His district had a small Black population. So, he had little to gain politically by supporting the Civil Rights Act. Yet, he became a critical leader in getting the bill passed.
      The Democrats ruled in the South with an iron fist for well over 100 years. In the KKK days, white or black – if you were Republican, you might find a cross burning in front of your home. You could be lynched for just being a Republican – white or black. The Democrats established Jim Crow laws. The Democrats were the KKK. We have only to look at history to remind us that Democrats, the party of Slavery, Secession, Segregation, and the KKK fought hard against racial equality for decades – until they discovered the value of the black vote.

      • Apply Liberally

        You obviously never learned (or refuse to learn) actual American political history. It appears that you have swallowed–wholesale–the tired, old, skewed and inaccurate viewpoint offered by the radical right that it’s been the Democratic Party that has fought against civil rights over the course of the last 160+ years. You don’t understand –or don’t want to understand– how the Republican and Democratic parties have switched their positions on the political conservative-progressive spectrum as well as their roles with regard to civil rights over the course of history, especially post-WWII.
        Please post again after you have taken a breather outside of the arch-conservative echo-chamber you are apparently living in.

        • Jay Ligon

          I didn’t interpret Elizabeth Bennet’s update of black history as an attack on Democrats or a revisionist history from the radical right.
          She isn’t factually incorrect, but the facts are confined to a period of time that ended long ago.

          The Republican Party was the party of abolitionists and emancipation. Democrats fought integration for at least 90 years, until the Brown decision. The racial divide that ran through the country ran through the political parties after that.

          At mid-century, democrats outside the south were more focused on labor issues and less on race. In the South, race was the dominant issue.

          In 1954, Brown was a unanimous decision ending “separate but equal” in public accommodations. Seven of the justices were Democrats and two, including the chief justice, were Republicans. By 1964, the Democrats and Republicans outside the South were in favor of passage of the Civil Rights Act. Southern Republicans and Democrats were opposed to the act. Democrats Richard Russell, Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd fought a hard, long, losing battle to defeat the Civil Rights Act.

          By 1972, blacks, like Jesse Jackson, had prominent positions in the Democratic Party, and the racists had departed for the Republican Party. The Republican Party welcomed racists and segregationists. Strom Thurmond moved from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. Fellow racist Jesse Helms joined him in the Senate.

          Parties change identity over time. The Republicans, once represented the hope for blacks in America, are now represented by a white supremacist. The Democrats, once a party of apartheid, are now led by the first black president.

          The shameful history of the Democratic Party is more than half a century behind us, but that stuff happened.

          • Apply Liberally

            I agree with you, but also assert that it is hard NOT to interpret a post that drenches Dems with phrases like “Democrats, the party of Slavery, Secession, Segregation, and the KKK, yet never once say, as you did, something on the order of “Parties change identity over time….”

  4. Chris Telesca

    Maybe what African-Americans and other folks who aren’t the traditional party leadership (largely older, privileged white professional men and their younger supporters who get campaign jobs) need to do is have a voice in the party and a seat at the table? It’s not just about voting if you only vote the same white elite into office.

    Get more African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Disabled folks, tradespeople, small business owners, and grassroots progressives actually involved in the party – get their precincts organized so they have a weighted vote on party matters. It’s not enough just to get folks to vote – we need a larger and more diverse group of people sitting at the table making decisions about the future of this party.

    • Apply Liberally

      Chris: Everything you suggested was also urged by many GOP party leaders in the RNC debriefing held right after the 2012 elections. But none of it happened, as the radical right extremists in the party kept their iron grip on the GOP. And by 2015, Trump came along, sending a clarion call to the intolerant and mainly older white party base.

  5. Kick Butt


Related Posts


Get the latest posts from PoliticsNC delivered right to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!