Tackling a Century-Old Mystery: Did My Grandmother Vote?

Tackling a Century-Old Mystery: Did My Grandmother Vote?


In 1920, Democrats had accused Brown of circulating a letter that recommended how the 19th Amendment experienced provided “all women the right of the ballot no matter of color” and then urged “all the colored females of North Carolina to sign-up and vote on November 2nd, 1920.” It was a simply call to action: “The time for Negroes has arrive.”

White Democrats charged Brown with conspiring to oppose them at the polls. Only her white benefactors, who stepped up to defend Brown, prevented a witch hunt. Brown finally deflected: “I do not keep, or endorse, the views” that experienced been printed, she mentioned. As a club chief, she advocated for Black women’s votes, but in Greensboro she disavowed them. There, politics demanded a cruel discount: the abdication of voting legal rights in an effort to save a university.

I attempted to consider Susie there. Maybe the tears she drop that first 12 months in Greensboro had been not spilled more than missing metropolis everyday living. Maybe she cried out of irritation. She was creating a college fully commited to earning youthful gals into total citizens. Still, in Greensboro, heading to the polls or encouraging other individuals to do the exact could threaten the potential of Bennett.

What did she do following? In that Raleigh examining room, I scoured voting returns starting off in 1926, wanting for any sign of what occurred there on Election Working day. I was hoping to find Susie. Instead, I identified practically nothing at all.

In North Carolina, no just one preserved the specifics of women’s very first votes. When the polls opened to them in 1920, absolutely nothing in the surviving files tells whether Black girls managed to cast ballots. Docket textbooks intended for that reason went unused. I sat in the state archives underneath the glare of florescent lights, having it all in. I would never ever know the entire tale of my grandmother’s voting legal rights. In my disappointment, the tears she shed practically 100 many years in the past welled up in my eyes.

Combing through the webpages of a 1978 interview, I finally listened to her voice as Susie reflected on the vexed state of Black women’s votes in Greensboro. In 1951, 25 several years following she arrived there, a press for Black voting rights was waged overtly when Bennett learners, operating with the neighborhood Black-led Citizens Association, registered voters. Then, in 1960, Bennett learners and college arranged an Operation Door Knock. Susie explained it: “Faculty and students went out and knocked on doorways and found out regardless of whether the folks … in this region ended up voting, and followed it up by viewing that they registered and looking at that they voted.”



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Posted by Krin Rodriquez

Passionate for technology and social media, ex Silicon Valley insider.