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History of Voting

Historical Background

After the passing of the 13th Amendment in 1865, African Americans were granted freedom and full citizenship. During reconstruction, many African American men exercised their right to vote and run for office. This resulted in several Black men being elected to Congress and Senate. Subsequently, the 14th and 15th amendments were passed granting citizenship and voting rights to any American citizen regardless of color. However, these changes increase the amount of violence toward Black Americans at the hands of white supremacist groups. Southern states began to put stipulations on voting rights including literacy tests, grandfather clauses, poll taxes and other practices to disenfranchise Black voters. While African Americans had the right to vote legally in southern states it was next to impossible. It wasn’t until Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that African American men and women could freely exercise their right to vote.

Special Collections and University Archives

Alexander Papers Concerning the NAACP 

The Alexander family papers consist of materials related to the NAACP activity of Kelly M. Alexander, Sr., Fred Alexander, and Kelly M. Alexander, Jr. These papers cover between 1950-1985. Kelly Alexander Sr. served as the president of the North Carolina State Conference of BRanches, NAACP and as a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors. 

Charles McLean Papers - Charles McLean worked with the NAACP as the director of Special Assignments for the voter registration program. In 1951, McLean became field director of the North Carolina Conference of Branches, consisting of 35 local branches. His work involved building up local NAACP branches, work for desegregation, and supporting voter education and voter registration campaigns aimed at increasing representation of African-Americans in North Carolina

Books from General Collections