This Day in History: 1960-04-25

In the midst of a years long voting and civil rights struggle in Fayette County, Tennessee, the federal government is finally able to end the boycott by election officials in Fayette County, and voter registration begins again through a consent decree in United States v. Fayette County Executive Committee. Registration only opens on Wednesdays, and Black citizens are forced to stand in line for hours in high temperatures to vote, some even fainting. On the other hand, white citizens who wish to register to vote are able to show up, register, and leave within a matter of minutes. Whites and courthouse employees harass Blacks by throwing hot coffee and pepper, or spitting on them. At this point, only 1,000 of the 9,000 voting age adults have registered to vote. The organized voting and civil rights actions in Fayette County were initiated by Memphis NAACP-affiliated Attorney James F. Estesin 1958, who organized local leaders to register Blacks to vote in Fayette County. Following the initiation of these efforts, whites in Fayette County undertake a decade-plus long retaliation effort, including pressuring local businesses to refuse to sell products or services to register Blacks, evicting registered Black sharecroppers and renters from their homes and livelihoods, shutting down voter registration altogether, and other actions to starve out and punish any African American who registered to vote. Learn more.