On Account of Race

By Lawrence Goldstone

On Account of Race book cover
Added July 9, 2020

Constitutional Law historian, Lawrence Goldstone examines case-based evidence to reveal the court's longstanding support for white supremacy (often under the guise of “states rights”) and how that bias has allowed the court to solidify its position as arguably the most powerful branch of the federal government. Beginning in 1876, the Supreme Court systematically dismantled both the equal protection guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment, at least for African-Americans, and what seemed to be the guarantee of the right to vote in the Fifteenth. And so, of the more than 500,000 African-Americans who had registered to vote across the South, the vast majority of whom were former slaves, by 1906, less than 10 percent were allowed to vote. Many of those were terrified to go the polls, lest they be beaten, murdered, or have their homes burned to the ground. None of this was done in the shadows—those determined to wrest the vote from black Americans could not have been more boastful in either intent or execution. But the Court chose to ignore the obvious and wrote decisions at odds with the constitution, preferring to instead reinforce the racial stereotypes of the day. On Account Of Race tells the story of an American tragedy, the only occasion in U.S. history in which a group of citizens who had been granted the right to vote then had it stripped away. Even more unjust was that this theft of voting rights was done with full approval, even the sponsorship, of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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