The Voting Rights War

The NAACP and the Ongoing Struggle for Justice

By (author) Gloria J. Browne-Marshall Foreword by Rev. Dr. C. T. Vivian

Publication date:

22 August 2016

Length of book:

258 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442266896

The Voting Rights War tells the story of the courageous struggle to achieve voting equality through more than one hundred years of work by the NAACP at the Supreme Court. Readers take the journey for voting rights from slavery to the Plessy v. Ferguson case that legalized segregation in 1896 through today’s conflicts around voter suppression. The NAACP brought important cases to the Supreme Court that challenged obstacles to voting: grandfather clauses, all-White primaries, literacy tests, gerrymandering, vote dilution, felony disenfranchisement, and photo identification laws.

This book highlights the challenges facing American voters, especially African Americans, the brave work of NAACP members, and the often contentious relationship between the NAACP and the Supreme Court. This book shows the human price paid for the right to vote and the intellectual stamina needed for each legal battle. The Voting Rights War follows conflicts on the ground and in the courtroom, from post-slavery voting rights and the formation of the NAACP to its ongoing work to gain a basic right guaranteed to every citizen.

Whether through litigation, lobbying, or protest, the NAACP continues to play an unprecedented role in the battle for voting equality in America, fighting against prison gerrymandering, racial redistricting, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, and more. The Voting Rights War highlights the NAACP’s powerful contribution and legacy.
Browne-Marshall, an associate constitutional law professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, delivers a passionate, comprehensive history of the NAACP and its crucial role in the still ongoing battle for voting rights. Founded in response to the Springfield (Ill.) Riot of 1908 and initially led by white liberals, the NAACP, as Browne-Marshall shows, focused on voter rights from the start. She highlights how the NAACP’s involvement in nearly every voting rights case argued before the Supreme Court speaks to its effective tripartite strategy of 'litigation, legislation, and protest.' With considerable insight, Browne-Marshall guides readers through a century of pivotal legal struggles: 1896’s Plessy v. Ferguson; poll taxes and literacy tests; whites-only primaries; the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965; and the present-day photo ID laws, voter dilution efforts, and gutting of certain voter protections in the 2013 Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder decision. She also shows the Supreme Court’s changing makeup through the decades and resurrects the people—Moorfield Storey, Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, Mary White Ovington—who struggled on the NAACP’s behalf. With vivid descriptions of voter intimidation, murders, riots, and lynchings, this work emphasizes that 'freedom is not free.'