Peyton McCrary


In 1960 African Americans in the South were substantially disfranchised by racially discriminatory registration procedures. A little over a third of the black voting age population was registered, and whites were registered at more than twice that rate.1 Not surprisingly, state legislatures in the region were all white, although a few local governments had elected a black person to public office from time to time in the years since World War II -- usually from single-member districts in the black part of town.2 By 1990 this portrait of inequality had been transformed beyond recognition. Formal barriers to registration and voting no longer existed, and in some localities African American registration and turnout approached parity with whites. Black office-holding had become routine and in some jurisdictions approached proportionality, as a result of the elimination of racially discriminatory at-large election procedures and racially gerrymandered districting plans.