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History makers

Nineteenth century African-American legislators from Arkansas image
  • Courtesy of the Arkansas History Commission

The state Capitol, in observance of Black History Month, is exhibiting 45 portraits of African-Americans who served in the state legislature during Reconstruction, 1868-1893. A total of 85 black legislators, most in the House of Representatives, served after the state Constitution was amended in 1868 to give African-American men the right to vote and hold public office. Laws designed to squelch black voting rights, including the poll tax, ended the African-American ability to get elected; there were no blacks in the legislature in the 80 years between 1893 and 1973.

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