Championing the Ballot

Tonya Scott-Williams and series poet Ashley M. Jones engage in conversation with Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries, host of the Teaching Hard History podcast and author of “Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt (NYU Press, 2010).From the Introduction to ‘Bloody Lowndes’: Jim Crow was a grim reality in Lowndes County, Alabama at the beginning of 1965.*… [African Americans] were completely shut out of the political process. There were five thousand African Americans of voting age in the…county, but not a single one was registered to vote.… By the end of 1966, however, Jim Crow was crumbling. The most obvious sign of its demise could be found on the voter rolls, which listed the names of nearly three thousand African Americans. In a remarkable display of collective courage, African Americans managed to set aside their fear and act on the powerful impulse to end segregation immediately. Their fierce determination to take action also led them to embark on a radical experiment in democracy [when]…they created the Lowndes County Freedom Organization…. This startling change seemed to appear out of nowhere, but it was actually more than a century in the making.


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