chapter  1
24 Pages

Literacy Test Bans before 1975

There are many common bonds that language minority and African-American voters share. The barriers posed by literacy tests, which require applicants to demonstrate their ability to read and write as a prerequisite to voting, are one. Discrimination in several areas, including schooling, is another. Non-English speaking citizens suffered from educational discrimination in the United States that often was as severe as the separate and unequal schooling provided to African-American children (Chapters 8-10). Like African-Americans, language minorities frequently were unable to pass English literacy tests when attempting to register to vote. But the effects of educational discrimination extended far beyond the voter registration. In most states, all election information was available only in English. That imposed a de facto requirement to be able to read even in places where literacy tests were not in effect or were later suspended. As a result, English-only elections themselves often functioned as literacy tests (Chapters 3-4, 9-10).