Civil Rights History In Virginia
In 1902, to circumvent the 15th amendment to the U.S.
Constitution, which guaranteed voting rights to black men,
Virginia instituted voting knowledge tests and poll taxes.
Within 90 days 125,000 of the 147,000 black voters in the state
had been stricken from the voting rolls.
Virginia requiring a "reasonable explanation" of any part of the
state constitution in order to vote was finally eliminated by
the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The 24th amendment, ratified in 1964, outlawed poll taxes in
federal elections. In 1966 the U.S. Supreme Court banned it in
In 1927 the Virginia “Act to Preserve Racial Integrity” became
Virginia classified all persons as white or colored
Virginia did not recognize Indians or issue birth
Virginia enforced “delayed birth registration” for blacks
Interracial marriage was made illegal
In 1927 the Sterilization Act was also passed. Prisoners and the
mentally handicap could now be sterilized.
8,000 citizens suffered forced sterilization. To date the state
has compensated just 16 of the survivors.
Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia,
United States Supreme Court ruled
that the Virginia law was unconstitutional and
interstate bus travel was desegregated.
In 1960, in Boynton v. Virginia,
the Supreme Court extended the Morgan ruling
to bus terminals used in interstate bus service.
In the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, Virginia
was one of the five defendants the Court ruled against.
In 1954, in response to Brown v. Board of Education, Senator
Harry Byrd of Virginia promoted the "Southern Manifesto"
opposing integrated schools. It was signed by over 100 southern
In 1956 Byrd called for what became known as Massive Resistance.
This was a group of laws, passed in 1956, intended to prevent
the integration of schools.
were shut down in 1958 and 1959 in attempts to block
Ordered to integrate its
schools, Prince Edward County Virginia instead closed its entire
public school system.
Publicly funded tuition grants
paid for private schools to educate the county's white children.
No provision was made for educating black children. Some pupils
missed five years of school.
In 1964 the Virginia
Supreme Court and
a special three-judge panel of Federal District judges declared
these policies unconstitutional.
In 1964 the U.S. Supreme Court
outlawed Virginia's tuition grants to private education. Prince
Edward County reopened its schools on an integrated basis.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also banned racial segregation "by
businesses offering food, lodging, gasoline, or entertainment to
In 1963 Southern juries were desegregated as a result of Johnson v. Virginia.
The court held that a State may not segregate court rooms.
In 1967 the landmark civil rights decision by the Supreme Court
(Loving v. Virginia) legalized interracial marriage in Virginia
overturned seventeen states' laws banning interracial marriage.
In 1968, not satisfied with the token compliance to integrate
Virginia schools, the U.S. Supreme Court decided
School Board of New Kent County Virginia.
rip out segregation “root and branch,” overturned Virginias’
Green v. School
Board of New Kent County became the most important
school desegregation decision since Brown v. The Board of
In 2010 – Virginia gerrymandered congressional districts to win
8 of 11 districts for Republicans in future elections. Even when
President Obama (D) carried the state by 53-47 in 2012 they
maintained 8 of 11 gerrymandered seats.
In 2015 federal courts declared
Virginia gerrymandering illegal. The Supreme Court is reviewing
In 2013 – Virginia mandated strict Voter Identification laws.
The legality of these new laws is currently being challenged in
Historically, voter identification laws, poll taxes, knowledge
tests and intimidation have been used to suppress the vote.
The fight against these policies continues today. More than HALF
of the recently adopted voter identification laws passed in the
United States are being challenged in federal court.
Texas, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Missouri,
Pennsylvania and Georgia have all LOST
federal cases for their aggressive use of voter ID laws. In
every case these ID laws hurt citizens and suppressed the vote.
Virginia has an ugly history of massive voter repression.
Virginia has a definitive responsibility to defend and protect
ALL of her citizens.
By gerrymandering our congressional districts and by adding
voter identification laws which further suppress the vote,
leaders in Richmond ignore our history and continue the policies
of Jim Crow today.
Virginia Needs YOU. Take Back Your Civil Rights and Your
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