The Afro-American and the Vote

November 21, 1896


This article speaks of the white reaction to the scandal of the disfranchisement faced by black voters in the 1896 presidential election.


We confess that we are mystified, not to say surprised at the attitude of some of our white friends who profess an observance of great principles and a respect for the religion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
They too are now endeavoring to find some method of retreat from the logical sequence of their position, by proposing, not a constitutional convention, but legislation which would have the same effect by being passed upon by two succeeding legislatures.
This is a bare-faced proposition submitted on the face of the fact that over four thousand citizens were denied the right of franchise by one form of trickery or the other. The citizen of color is by no means a menace to free institutions. His clannishness is built upon existing conditions and would disappear upon the passing away of those environments which threaten vital rights and privileges.
White men are fearful lest they be charged with defending or placed in the attitude of punishing white men who have committed crimes upon the Afro-American. This "chicken-heartedness" was manifest, not only on election-day, but in the trial of J. R. Syrcle, the oath-breaking registrar of Smither's Precinct, Henrico County Va.
It seems that supine submission, a desire for peace produces contempt even among those of our white friend who counsel such a course.
We insist that the encroachment up on the rights and privileges of colored men will result in the curtailing of the same in men of a lighter hue.
Condoning outrage, nullifying the plain provisions of the constitution will hand down not only to this generation but to succeeding ones bloody results of our folly.
We shall contend for our rights, regardless of which party is in power and oppose any man or men who would in the slightest degree sacrifice those principles which are to us most dear.
About this article

Location on Page

Lower Left Quadrant


Contributed By

Liam Eynan


“The Afro-American and the Vote,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed May 20, 2019,