constitutional amendment

White supremacy made permanent.

On 2 August 1900, in the wake of the Wilmington Massacre, North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment that effectively disenfranchised its African-American voting population. This disenfranchisement was the point, not a by-product. For more than a year prior to the vote, politicians and press across the state made that point clear in speeches and editorials, including this one that the Wilson Daily Times ran 123 years ago today.

First, the text of the Suffrage Amendment: 

Then, a breezy — and nakedly racist — explanation of the amendment’s purpose and impact. The literal bottom line: “The white people are determined to make white supremacy permanent in North Carolina.”

Wilson Daily Times, 10 April 1899.

Local heroes Josephus Daniels and Charles B. Aycock were central figures in North Carolina’s white supremacist campaign and the physical and political violence it engendered. The Suffrage Amendment, whose passage was as much their legacy as anyone’s, long outlived both of them, standing until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.