Joseph Crespino: Moderate White Democrats Silenced

Roundup: Historians' Take

Joseph Crespino, a professor of history at Emory University, is the author of "Strom Thurmond's America."

...The passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act did not usher in immediate political influence for black Southerners. African-Americans and voting rights advocates had to work for years to overcome vote dilution schemes that preserved white political control. By 1982, when Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act, Congressional districts were redrawn in ways that led to significant gains in black representation. To do that, however, officials often had to pack those districts with high numbers of black voters, along with handfuls of liberal whites. In the process, surrounding districts became increasingly “white” and conservative. Republicans were well aware of how these packed districts would ease their election, and they eagerly supported the process. It made for an odd alliance between Southern blacks and white conservatives....

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