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)