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Beyond the Book

272 pp., 6.125 x 9.25

ISBN  978-0-8078-4274-4
Published: May 1990

Black Votes Count

Political Empowerment in Mississippi After 1965

By Frank R. Parker

Foreword by Eddie N. Williams

Awards & Distinctions

1990 McLemore Prize, Mississippi Historical Society

1991 Silver Gavel Award, American Bar Association

1991 Ralph J. Bunche Award, American Political Science Association

1991 V. O. Key Jr. Award, Southern Political Science Association

1991 Outstanding Book Award, Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America

Most Americans see the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as the culmination of the civil rights movement. When the law was enacted, black voter registration in Mississippi soared. Few black candidates won office, however. In this book, Frank Parker describes black Mississippians' battle for meaningful voting rights, bringing the story up to 1986, when Mike Espy was elected as Mississippi's first black member of Congress in this century.

To nullify the impact of the black vote, white Mississippi devised a political "massive resistance" strategy, adopting such disenfranchising devices as at-large elections, racial gerrymandering, making elective offices appointive, and revising the qualifications for candidates for public office. As legal challenges to these mechanisms mounted, Mississippi once again became the testing ground for deciding whether the promises of the Fifteenth Amendment would be fulfilled, and Parker describes the court battles that ensued until black voters obtained relief.

About the Author

Frank R. Parker is Director of the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C. He was a civil rights lawyer in Mississippi from 1968 to 1981.


"[A] clear and detailed book."
--Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Having served as a civil rights attorney in Mississippi from 1968 to 1981, Mr. Parker is well situated to tell the story. He writes gracefully and with restraint, letting the facts about the old system he helped to change speak for themselves."
--New York Times Book Review

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