Operation Suffrage in Post-War Alabama

Join host Tonya Scott-Williams and poet Ashley M. Jones in conversation with Scotty E. Kirkland, Exhibitions, Publications, & Programs Coordinator for the Alabama Department of Archives and History about the Boswell Amendment. The Boswell Amendment was a short-lived amendment to the Alabama Constitution and the reaction of Alabama white supremacists to a new era in the civil rights movement taking place during and after World War II. The key features of the period were intensified efforts by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) against denials of the rights of blacks to vote and the support of NAACP activities by the United States Supreme Court. In 1944 the NAACP received its most notable success in this matter when the high court, in Smith v. Allwright, declared the white primary unconstitutional. The white primary was a disfranchisement device used by southern whites to ban blacks from voting in a state Democratic primary. When the Boswell Amendment was approved by Alabama voters in 1946, few doubted its intent. Passed by the legislature in 1945, the law required that a prospective voter be able to “understand and explain” any section of the United States Constitution.


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