More African Americans were elected to the Arkansas General Assembly in the nineteenth century than have been elected in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. One hundred and forty-five years ago the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing equal votes regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Between 1868 and 1893, a total of eighty-four Africans Americans were elected: six in the senate, seventy-four in the house, and four in both chambers. Twenty-five continuous years of African American representation in Arkansas politics came to a halt in 1893 after the passage of various disfranchisement measures. Another eighty years later, the first four African Americans returned to the General Assembly after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Since 1965, up until the last election, another fifty joined them.
By John Kirk • Jan 29, 2015