Poll Power: The Voter Education Project and the Movement for the Ballot in the American South

Poll Power: The Voter Education Project and the Movement for the Ballot in the American South

by Evan Faulkenbury

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The civil rights movement required money. In the early 1960s, after years of grassroots organizing, civil rights activists convinced nonprofit foundations to donate in support of voter education and registration efforts. One result was the Voter Education Project (VEP), which, starting in 1962, showed far-reaching results almost immediately and organized the groundwork that eventually led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In African American communities across the South, the VEP catalyzed existing campaigns; it paid for fuel, booked rallies, bought food for volunteers, and paid people to canvass neighborhoods. Despite this progress, powerful conservatives in Congress weaponized the federal tax code to undercut the important work of the VEP.

Though local power had long existed in the hundreds of southern towns and cities that saw organized civil rights action, the VEP was vital to converting that power into political motion. Evan Faulkenbury offers a much-needed explanation of how philanthropic foundations, outside funding, and tax policy shaped the southern black freedom movement.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469651323
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 04/10/2019
Series: Justice, Power, and Politics
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 216
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

Evan Faulkenbury is associate professor of history at SUNY Cortland.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

This important contribution focuses on a neglected yet critical episode in the civil rights movement, explaining well how an unexpected alliance of politicians, philanthropists, and civil rights activists launched voter registration projects and achieved important victories despite segregationists in Congress and state and local governments.—Olivier Zunz, University of Virginia

Faulkenbury crafts a riveting narrative about an all-important and largely neglected chapter in history—the significance of the Voter Education Project in the civil rights movement.—David Carter, Auburn University

In this innovative study, Faulkenbury goes behind the scenes to elucidate the relationship between the civil rights movement and philanthropic foundations. An organizational history of the Voter Education Project and its funders, Poll Power demonstrates that as civil rights activists in countless communities across the South began to institutionalize their hard-won access to the ballot, their opponents answered with federal legislation that severely curtailed the chances of their success. This work is essential for understanding the intricacies of voter suppression efforts, both past and present.—Katherine Mellen Charron, North Carolina State University

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