Take The Challenge: Would You Have Been Able To Pass The Literacy Test Given To Black Voters In The 1960s?
Below are scans of an actual “literacy test” given to black voters by the state of Louisiana in the 1960s. As Slate points out, “There was little room for befuddlement. The test was to be taken in 10 minutes flat, and a single wrong answer meant a failing grade.” Careful readers will note the irony of the typos in this test.
This summer, we revisited a literacy test from the Jim Crow South. Given predominantly to African-Americans living in Louisiana in 1964, the test consisted of 30 ambiguous questions to be answered in 10 minutes. One wrong answer, and the test-taker was denied the right to vote. It was all part of the South’s attempt to impede free and fair elections, and ensure that African-Americans had no access to politics or mechanisms of power.