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Think You’re Smart Enough to Pass the Black Voter Literacy Test: Try It



by G. Brown

It is still a viable question posed by many Black voters convinced the system is rigged-‘why should I vote?’  As the nation continues to wait for the outcome of the Federal Probe into Russian Collusion in the last Presidential race, it truly seems like voting is a waste of time if other countries can so easily hack our system and throw us into chaos.

The answer to ‘why should I vote?’ isn’t a one layer question.  There’s the future to consider when looking at a field of candidates as well as the hot button issues like gun control, abortion rights, education, police brutality.  But Black voters also have an extra consideration many carry with them into the voting booths–the past.

Even after the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Blacks still were not given the legal privilege or human dignity of voting in many states.  To deny many Black voters, some cities and states came up with tests as an impediment.  The literacy tests as they were called were insanely difficult.  They didn’t address local laws or voting issues, but were designed for one thing only-to keep Blacks from passing.

Below are some sample questions.  Do yourself a favor and see how many you can answer in the allotted ten minute time frame.  Don’t cheat…or Google help.  Remember even one wrong answer means you failed the test and could not vote.This is the test that maybe your great grandparents or your parents great grandparents were forced to take if they wanted to vote. Once you complete the test, let us know in comments if the test changed your perspective on exercising your right to vote.  Good Luck!

The test below is reportedly a copy taken from of the Louisiana Voter Literacy Test, circa 1964. Via the Civil Right Movement Veterans website. Click the links if you want to print a copy to share with family and friends.


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  38. Bree

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  39. bessie shavers

    March 30, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    My first response is to Mr. Griffith..’Sir, it’s not so much a matter of,”…with regard to the idea that the Black vote is more important from other ethnic groups is a farce”..but what does what you wrote mean? Please. the Black person registering and voting is standing on the shoulders and in the blood of those who bled and died trying to get the vote. I do not believe all the Gerrymandering, changing times/places/days, voter ID’s, scouring voter rolls that goes on and the over sentencing and incarceration of Black people, would be occurring if our vote or voting was not important. It saddens me to see so many people who are hood winked and bamboozled into thinking it does not matter. Voter rolls make up jury pools, enables one to expect work from your representatives and gives young people to aspire to work collectively to achieve goals toward something greater than themselves. These literacy tests are a hated reflection on the people who came up with them and further indication that “they” know how important the vote was and is.

  40. Sharon Hawkins

    March 30, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    Hi I would just like to say , that I found this test very offense and biased. They knew that half of the blacks were illiterate at those times and some of the question was presented more than once to trick the person into giving different answers for the same exact question. This goes beyond sad, for some of our people had to work in the fields at such a young age to help take of the families. Some weren’t even allowed to go to school or even go to school with the whites to seek a better education for themselves. I really do think if blacks were to have their own school,and educate their kids, I really do think a lot more will have owned businesses and established alot more.Even though some were fortunate to do just that but unfortunately it came at such a huge price of losing their lives because of hatred and jealousy.When I was young I was told stories of blacks owning banks, schools, businesses , night clubs that had the greatest black entertainers that were ever known. So it is not that blacks are dumb or stupid for that matter; it’s that hatred for our people played such a large role in it all. So I couldn’t take the rest of the test because no doubt I would have failed. Thank you for sharing and giving us a look back of what are ancestor endure just to vote in this country. The reason I would probably have failed,is because I would have given up after a few tries. Sharon Hawkins

  41. Doterryck S. Griffith

    March 30, 2018 at 2:25 pm


    With regard to the idea that the Black vote is more or less important from other ethnic groups is a farce.

    • wendell spivey

      April 6, 2018 at 7:36 pm

      I agree with you. Our liberation/salvation will not come by vote.

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