What happens when the right to vote is systematically withheld from a portion of the electorate?
Goldstone (Unpunished Murder, 2018, etc.) details the complex history of voting for African Americans, including the lasting impact of major decisions made at pivotal points in American history: the Constitutional Convention, the Civil War, the 13th and 14th amendments during Reconstruction, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act and its dismantling by the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts in 2013. By interweaving stories about African Americans who fought for the right to vote and those who worked against them, Goldstone deftly highlights the adversities African Americans have faced to gain and retain access to the ballot. He unpacks many of the structural, systematic, state-sanctioned, and legal blockades to voting, including state constitutional amendments in North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina that insidiously virtually eliminated African American participation. Running parallel to the stories are portrayals of lesser-known heroes like Alex Manly, Judge Alexander Rivers, Cornelius Jones, and Jackson W. Giles who worked to dismantle systemic racism at the ballot box. Goldstone resurrects decades-old court cases, bringing new life to the past by clearly connecting yesterday to today and invoking current questions about which Americans have participatory access to democracy. Short chapters, ample photographs and illustrations, judicious use of illustrative quotations, and straightforward prose make this an engaging read.
A critical work. (glossary, bibliography, source notes, illustration credits, index) (Nonfiction. 14-18)