In Defying Disfranchisement, R. Volney Riser documents a number of lawsuits challenging various requirements--including literacy tests, poll taxes, and white primaries--designed primarily to strip African American men of their right to vote in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Twelve of these cases wended their way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and that body coldly ignored the systematic disfranchisement of black southerners. Nevertheless, as Riser shows, the attempts themselves were stunning and demonstrate that even at one of their bleakest hours, African Americans sheltered and nurtured a hope that would lead to wholesale changes in the American legal and political landscape.
About the Author
R. Volney Riser is cochair of the Department of History and Social Science at the University of West Alabama in Livingston.