Mississippi: MISSISSIPPI A Vote for Reason

"The poll tax won't keep 'em from voting," Mississippi's infamous Senator Theodore Bilbo used to snort. "What keeps 'em from voting is Section 244 of the Constitution of 1890." That section stipulated that voters−Negro voters, anyway−must be able to interpret a state constitution that, as Bilbo chortled, "damn few white men and no niggers at all can explain"

The requirement was largely responsible for the fact that Mississippi's Negro voter-registration rate is the South's lowest−6.7%. Last week Section 244 was as dead as slavery. By a majority vote of 130,832 to 49,330 or...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!