These two gentlemen, Preston Shelby and Ellis Lindsay, worked at the hotel owned by my family. They were waiters, masseuses, carriers of wood, and shooters of quail for our Christmas breakfast. In the ‘50s when this photo was taken, if they had tried to register to vote in Madison County, Mississippi, they would have been threatened or physically harmed.
They never voted.
They were never called Mr. by a white person.
They were not allowed to look a white woman in the eye.
They could serve our food, but never sit and eat with us.
They could not shake hands with a white man.
If passing a white person on a sidewalk, they were expected to doff their hats and step out of the way.
In a bus, they sat in back. When chauffeuring us, we sat in back.
In movie houses, they went up a separate set of stairs and sat in the balcony.
They could not use our bathrooms, eat in our restaurants, try on clothes in our stores, or drink from our water fountains.
When sick, they were not allowed in our hospitals or treated by white doctors.
They never voted.
Jim Crow is not dead. Ninety percent of Republicans are white and 22 GOP-controlled legislatures have passed Voter ID laws in the past two years.
As the election nears, voter suppression goes on. In Florida, early voting was cut from 14 days to 8, with people, many elderly and disabled, standing for up to seven hours in the sun. In Tampa, the NAACP was told they couldn’t hand out water to waiting voters. A Republican poll watcher claimed water was a “bribe”. In Cleveland, Clear Channel billboards appeared in minority neighborhoods: “VOTER FRAUD IS A FELONY.” In New York City, minority voters got a letter telling them if they hadn’t voted since 2008, they must re-register 25 days before the 2112 election. In Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpalo sent out Spanish language voter information telling people to vote November 8. At least nine CEO’s sent letters to employees telling them they will be laid off if Obama is reelected.