The White Primary was used in some southern states to prevent black citizens from voting. Shortly after Reconstruction ended in 1877, the Democratic Party, which was largely controlled by white citizens, regained dominance of state and local offices throughout the South. Many members of the Democratic Party in Texas decided to exclude all nonwhite citizens from voting in the Democratic Party’s primaries, as at this time, most of the elected offices in Texas were held by candidates from the Democratic Party. This practice, known as a White Primary, effectively excluded black citizens from voting in the Democratic Party’s primary. A series of court cases eliminated the Democratic Party’s ability to exclude citizens from voting based on color.
In 1923, the Texas State Legislature enacted a law requiring all voters in the Democratic primary to be white. In 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court in Smith v. Allwright invalidated the law as violating a black citizen’s right to vote in a primary election, as guaranteed by the Fifteenth Amendment.
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