Sunday, January 18, 2015

Library of America Story of the Week Read-Along 260: Fred Travis, "The Evicted" (#260)

Fred Travis, "The Evicted" (1961) from Reporting Civil Rights: American Journalism 1941–1973:

This is from 50+ years ago, but so much of it rings contemporary: black citizens, exercising their Constitutional right to vote, get blacklisted, evicted, and otherwise financially punished by the white people who are trying to keep things nice and white. Maybe I'm being overly pessimistic, but it's just another example of a story that goes on today, with people saying that they have nothing against black people (several southern landowners here use other language than that), they're just trying to keep their own rights.

And the LoA headnote describes the outcome of this court case as bittersweet, but it mostly seems bitter: the white people who broke the law got off with a promise that they wouldn't, cross their heart, infringe on other people's rights again. And the black defendants got to exercise the vote, which should never have been put into jeopardy in the first place. (And might not have been if Hoover had been a little more pro-active with his FBI; instead, it took a DOJ investigator going out and doing fieldwork.)

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