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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

NJ Employment Attorney, Historical Racism Part VIII, Voter Suppression and Literacy Tests Administered Into the 1960's

Literacy tests

Many American blacks were uneducated and their ancestors had been illiterate for decades as it had been against the law to teach a slave to read and write. Schools were segregated by race and the funding for and quality of education for black children was inferior. Jim Crow states enacted “literacy tests” as a prerequisite to voting to prevent blacks from voting.

These tests were  administered at the discretion of the locals in charge of voter registration and were not administered uniformly, with the most difficult questions that were required to be answered correctly given only to prospective black voters.   Many white educated voters would not have been able to pass the  literary tests given to black prospective voters. They were asked to write specific sections of their state constitution or interpret a complex legal passage of a state statute that would give even a lawyer pause. Voter registration officials chose the questions and interpreted the answers for each prospective voter, choosing which persons to pass and which to fail.

A thirty-question 1958 test from the Georgia State Voter Registration Act is illustrative of the complexity of a literacy test administered to Blacks which was designed to have them fail and prevent them from voting.

Two of the Questions and Answers under Section 19 of the 1958 Registration Law state as follows:

“8. How does the Constitution of the United States provide that it may be amended?

Answer: The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two-thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purpose, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three-fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress. (Article V of the United States Constitution. Code Section 1-501)”

“13. (a) What does the  Constitution of the United States provide regarding the suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus?

       (b) What does the Constitution of  Georgia provide regarding the suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus?

Answer:  (a) It shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it. (Article I, Section IX of the United States Constitution. Code Section 1-127)

                        (b) It shall not be suspended. (Article I, Section I, Paragraph XI of the Georgia Constitution Section 2-111)”

To view another sixty-eight question literacy test that was administered in Alabama in 1965 as a prerequisite to voting, click here.

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If you are being subjected to workplace discrimination, contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law serves clients throughout New Jersey, including Bergen, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, and Morris Counties with locations in southern, central, western and northern NJ to meet with clients.



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