The Root has written extensively about the new wave of voter suppression laws that have become more prevalent ever since Black people exercised their right to vote in record numbers during the 2020 Presidential election. Republican-led states such as Texas, Florida, and Georgia are just reimagining voting suppression tactics from an old playbook of poll taxes and Jim Crow laws. That’s abundantly clear from what is happening in Mississippi right now. According to the Mississippi Free Press, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed an 1890 Jim-Crow era voting law to continue.
Yes, in 2022, remnants of Jim Crow are still allowed to exist in southern states. While the primarily conservative court conceded the Mississippi law was steeped in racism, they believed the state had done enough since then to dilute the law’s impact on Black Americans.
Just as recently as April, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves vetoed a bill that would have overturned this provision. No wonder Mississippi has never elected a Black candidate for office, despite having the largest Black population in the country.
In 1890, newly emancipated Black Americans were making progress using their right to vote. At the same time, a white supremacist-dominated Mississippi legislative body was working to stop that by any means necessary. They got together and constructed parts of the state constitution that added crimes they believed mostly Black people committed in order to justify rescinding their right to vote forever and explicitly keep white rule in place.
“There is no use to equivocate or lie about the matter … Mississippi’s constitutional convention of 1890 was held for no other purpose than to eliminate the n–ger from politics. Not the ‘ignorant and vicious,’ as some of the apologists would have you believe, but the n–ger.” Supporters hailed Vardaman, who served as a Mississippi governor and U.S. senator, as the state’s “Great White Chief.”
How hard is it to get your rights restored today? As Mississippi Today points out, fewer than five people successfully gain their right to vote each year. The attorney for the Mississippi Center For Justice Rob McDuff argued that the provision violates the 14th amendment.
“This provision was part of the 1890 plan to take the vote away from Black people who had attained it in the wake of the Civil War,” said Rob McDuff, an attorney with MCJ who argued that Jim Crow violates the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of Equal Protection under the law. “Unfortunately, the Court of Appeals is allowing it to remain in place despite its racist origins. Despite this setback, we will continue this battle and seek review in the U.S. Supreme Court.”
There’s a plan to appeal this ruling to the Supreme Court. However, given the current makeup of judges, there’s no guarantee this racist law will be removed.