Can You Pass This “Literacy” Test Louisiana Gave Black Voters in the 1960s?
After the end of the Civil War, would-be black voters in the South faced an array of disproportionate barriers to enfranchisement. The literacy test was a classic example of one of these barriers. The test was supposed to be applicable to both white and black prospective voters who couldn’t prove a certain level of education, but in actuality disproportionately administered to black voters
The Louisiana “literacy” test was designed to put the applicant through mental contortions; the test's questions are often confusingly worded. If some of them seem unanswerable, that effect was intentional. The (white) registrar would be the ultimate judge of whether an answer was correct.
"There was little room for befuddlement. The test was to be taken in 10 minutes flat, and a single wrong answer meant a failing grade."
Below are scans of an actual "literacy test" given to black voters by the state of Louisiana in the 1960s.