Tonight at Wilson County Public Library, Meredith College professor David McClennan and I spoke about voting rights and voter suppression, past and present. I focused on the campaigns of Dr. G.K. Butterfield Sr. for a seat on Wilson’s Board of Aldermen on the 1950s, but in my outline of the struggle leading up to his election I made reference to this sorry moment in Wilson’s voting rights history.
Wilson Daily Times, 10 June 1930.
In 1930, Democrats challenged the registrations of 39 African-American voters prior to a Democratic primary. Twenty-three of those challenged showed up at a hearing in which they were forced to answer questions about their political leanings and candidate choices.
A committee of two Democrats and a Republican, all white, reclassified these voters as Independent, disqualifying them from the primary:
- J.A. Whitley — probably James A. Whitfield, painter.
- J.S. Spell — John S. Spell, carpenter.
- J.Z. Staton — Jarrett Z. Staton, grocer.
These two were determined to have Republican sympathies, and therefore more properly registered as such:
- Robert Haskins, an insurance agent who was lead plaintiff more than 40 years later in a lawsuit to abolish at-large voting for seats on the Wilson County Commission.
- Ada Artis, nurse.
These 19 were allowed to keep their party affiliation:
- S.S. Boatright — Sidney S. Boatwright, barber.
- John A. Barnes — in the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Barnes John A (c; Sarah) lab h 739 Lipscomb rd
- Edgar Diggs, barber.
- Woody Farmer, barber.
- J.E. Kennedy — Rev. John E. Kennedy, A.M.E. Zion minister.
- W.A. Mitchner — William A. Mitchner, physician.
- L.A. Moore — Lee A. Moore, insurance agent.
- J.W. Peacock — Junius W. Peacock, barber.
- Roscoe Williams — in the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Williams Roscoe (c; Mary) barber Oscar Williams h 1009 Queen
- Nolly Zachary– Joe Knolly Zachary, barber.
- Roderick Taylor, barber.
- Boston Wellington — in the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Wellington Boston (c; Victoria) barber Chas S Thomas h 111 S Carroll
- Sophie Artis
- Mabel Ellis, nurse.
- Mamie Ford, teacher.
- Martha Haskins — probably, in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 702 East Green, Addie Haskins, 50, cook and widow, and children Martha, 20, teacher, Addie D., 19, Gladis, 19, and Nathan, 32, tobacco factory cooper.
- Annie Leonard — perhaps: Annie Leonard died 13 September 1943 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 57 years old; was born in Macon, Georgia; worked as a nurse and midwife; lived at 512 Church Street; and was buried in Rountree cemetery.
- Mildred Taylor
- Ethel Hines (by proxy, her husband Bill Hines)
Great presentation this evening. Rev. Talmadge Watkins was my pastor at Jackson Chapel who inspired the youth to support our candidates and the importance of voting!
Thank you! And thanks for coming to show support!