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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Aaron Henry, April 2, 1974. Interview A-0107. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Districting depletes black political power

Henry reflects on why Mississippi has been able to elect only one black person to its legislature. He faults a careful apportionment that makes most districts majority-white and the state's steadily declining black population over the past two decades.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Aaron Henry, April 2, 1974. Interview A-0107. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK BASS:
Why has Mississippi been able to elect only one black member of the legislature?
AARON HENRY:
Well, it's largely due to the way the state's apportioned. The state has been carefully apportioned to make almost every district either a white majority district or very closely so. And of course the black population of Mississippi is now something like 37%, something like that. Well, you say, 1950, back then, the black population was 55, 54%. Then the demarcation lines we now have would not have resulted in a general all white situation, you know, if we had been allowed to vote. You see blacks didn't get the right to vote in Mississippi until 1965 upon the passage of the voter registration act, voter right bill, civil rights act. And at that point the white citizen council had been successful to a degree in helping the outmigration from the state to be as big as it was. And as I say we've gone from black 55% down to 37% in the last 12-15 years. Blacks leave the state. So that's pretty much why, the way the lines are drawn.