Wednesday, June 2, 2010

African American Legislators in 19th Century Tennessee

This Honorable Body
African American Legislators in 19th Century Tennessee

An Online Exhibit By
The Tennessee State Library and Archives

Two and a half years after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, in November 1872, Tennessee voters elected their first African American representative to the General Assembly. The achievements of the fourteen black men, some of them former slaves, who served as Tennessee legislators before 1900 represent an important part of state history. However, after the end of the 45th General Assembly in March of 1887, Tennessee would not seat another African American in its legislature until 1965. It is imperative that readers remain aware of the generations of racial violence, supported by the legislative enactment of restrictive “Black Codes,” which silenced the political voices of millions of black Americans for decades. It took further civil strife in the 1950s and 1960s to restore those important voices to the national dialogue.

To visit the exhibit: Click Here.

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