Now, you know everything, because you read something written by some dude from Ohio, who spent a couple months in Louisiana?I did not say that I am an expert because I watched that movie, but from the evidence written down by actual African Americans people can find the truth about how black Americans were treated in the South, including Louisiana.
The Legal Status of the Southern Negro in 1955
The Louisiana Literacy Test and How It Worked to Deny Black Voting Rights
You can find a copy of the Louisiana Literacy test online here. How it works at one level was very simple. Every white applicant passed the test and, every African-American applicant failed. How is this possible? Here's how:
- Any spelling error by an African-American applicant would be deemed sufficient by the white parish registrars to fail the candidate, but not for white applicants.
- Punctuation errors were treated the same: failure for Blacks, but not for whites.
- Circling any of the words "Mr." or "Mrs." or "Miss" instead of underlining the correct word would be grounds for failing an African-American applicant, but not for whites.
When it came to interpreting a provision of the US Constitution, Black applicants would be asked to interpret the "full faith and credit" clause of Article IV, section 1 of the US Constitution or the "privileges and immunities" clause. But not for whites, they would be asked to explain the meaning of the "freedom of speech or freedom of religion" provisions of the First Amendment.
Then the test — and how it was graded and administered — got even more insidious. Check out question 21. It says: "Spell backwards, forwards". If a Black person spelled "backwards" but omitted the comma, he/she would be flunked. If a Black person spelled "backwards," he/she would be flunked. If a Black person asked why, he/she would be told either "you forgot the comma," or "you shouldn't have included the comma," or "you should have spelled 'backwards, forwards'". Any plausible response by a white person would be accepted, and so would any implausible response.
The same crazy unfairness was apparent in question 27. It was not a test of literacy at all. Question 27 read: "Write right from the left to the right as you see it spelled here." If a Black person were to print the answer, he/she would be failed because it says "write" so cursive writing was required. Not so for white people. If a Black person were to write "right" he/she would be failed. Why? Because, the registrar would say, you're supposed to write "right from the left to the right". If a Black person were to write "right from the left to the right", he/she would be failed. Why? Because, the registrar would say, you're supposed to write "right from the left to the right as you see it here." But not for white applicants; for them, any answer would be accepted.
One error and you didn't pass — if you were African-American. The white voter registrars made the pass-fail decisions. Who appointed these voter registrars? The white parish (county) commissioners — that's who. Who elected the white parish commissioners? The mostly white population of registered voters, that's who — even if they were not really a majority of the parish population. If you're not registered to vote, you can't vote. Therefore, all the politicians who made the rules were white. And the police chiefs that enforce the laws were all white. And the policemen they hired were all white. If you are not registered to vote, you can't serve on a jury, so any time there's a criminal charge or a civil dispute in the courts, the judges and juries are all white. That's how it was in Tangipahoa Parish in the summer of 1964, and throughout most of Louisiana.
Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement -- CORE's Freedom Summer*—*My Experiences in Louisiana
I know you hate white southerners and there's nothing that's ever going to change that, but they're not all that bad. But, then what do I know? I live here...right?