The High Point Branch of the NAACP advocates ~~ Repeal the Literacy Test. The literacy test was added to the North Carolina Constitution shortly after so-called white supremacists overthrew Black elected officials and murdered hundreds of Black North Carolinians in the Wilmington Massacre of 1898. Although it is no longer enforced, the law is still preserved in our state constitution. House Bill 44 shines a light on this draconian ideology that shaped our laws.
Although repealing the literacy test seems symbolic in nature, it draws attention to modern barriers to the polls for Black and Brown North Carolinians – like gerrymandering, voter ID laws, and felony disenfranchisement.
Repealing the literacy test sends a clear message that it was wrong to require all persons presenting for [voter] registration to be able to read and write a section of the state Constitution in the English language knowing full well that most Black people at the time could not read nor write. Ironically, however, white voters were exempt from the literacy test.
If approved by the voters in the 2024 General Election, House Bill 44 will remove the literacy test from the North Carolina Constitution. Our legislature must act, for once and for all, to remove a draconian law that perpetuates racist ideology.
Dr. Elma Hairston, President