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Unformatted text preview: weren't certain. Six years after the tumultuous summer of 1964 and its massive push to register blacks, and five years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965, few bothered to sign up in Ford County. In the statewide elections of 1967, almost 70 percent of the eligible whites in the county had voted, while only 12 percent of the blacks did so. Registration drives in Lowtown were met with general indifference. One reason was that the county was so white that no black could ever be elected to a local office. So why bother? Another reason was the historical abuse at the point of enrolling. For a hundred years whites had used a variety of tricks to deny blacks proper registration. Poll taxes, literacy exams, the list was long and miserable. Yet another reason was the hesitancy by most blacks to be registered in any manner by white authorities. Registration could mean more taxes, more supervision, more surveillance, more intrusions. Registration could mean serving on juries. According to Harry Rex, who was a slightly more reliable courthouse source than Baggy, there had never been a black juror in Ford County. Since potential jurors were selected from the voter registration rolls and nowhere else, few showed up in a jury pool. Those who survived the early rounds of questioning were routinely excused before the final twelve were empaneled. In criminal cases, the prosecution routinely challenged blacks under the belief that they would be too sympathetic to the accused. In civil cases, the defense challenged them because they were feared as too liberal with the money of others. However, these theories had never been tested in Ford County. - --- Callie and Esau Ruffin registered to vote in 1951. Together, they marched into the office of the Circuit Court clerk and asked to be added to the voter rolls. The deputy clerk, as she was trained to do, handed them a laminated card with the words "Declaration of Independence" across the top. The text was Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter, written in German. The clerk, assuming that Mr. and Mrs. Ruffin...
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