Speaker's Bureau

Education and the Vote: Then and Now

South Carolina’s 1895 constitution disenfranchised Black citizens. The constitution, which was not submitted to a popular vote, also said, “Separate schools shall be provided for children of the white and colored races, and no child of either race shall ever be permitted to attend a school provided for children of the other race.” That constitution has been amended but not replaced. In the 1940s fewer than 5,000 Black South Carolinians were registered to vote, thanks to intimidation and violence, poll taxes, property ownership requirements, and the all-white primary. Then George Elmore of Columbia and David Brown of Beaufort sued for the right to vote, and Black parents of Clarendon County sued for desegregated schools.

Let’s talk about the role of education in your life. Are education and the vote entwined in a democracy?

(A tidbit: The 19th Amendment’s 1920 ratification by 36 states ensured women couldn’t be denied the right to vote because of sex, but South Carolina didn’t ratify until July 1, 1969.)

With photos.

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