Harvard takes 1964 literacy test

A group of Harvard students were recently asked by their tutor to take the 1964 Louisiana Literacy Test – a test known to be notoriously confusing that was really only put in place used to stop thousands of poor black citizens from voting. Much to their surprise, they failed.

Not a single one of his student passed the exam, because the test was designed in such a way that each question could be interpreted as wrong by the official “grading” the answers.

It’s been a mere 50 years since states in the South asked voters to pass the test in order to be eligible to cast a ballot.

“Louisiana’s literacy test was designed to be failed. Just like all the other literacy tests issued in the South at the time, this test was not about testing literacy at all. It was a legitimate sounding, but devious measure that the State of Louisiana used to disenfranchise people that had the wrong skin tone or belonged to the wrong social class,” said resident tutor Carl Miller about the test. He asked the students to take the test as part of a larger conversation on the importance of voting.

The test was intended to disenfranchise African-Americans, who in order to pass had to correctly answer all 30 questions in 10 minutes.

Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to address entrenched racial discrimination in voting. One of the provisions outlawed such tests, as well as poll taxes and other barriers that disenfranchised voters.

Today, with new and sometimes confusing voter ID laws cropping up across the country and thousands of voter rolls being purged, there are far too many barriers that remain to voting.

It’s time for us to admit — the new laws are often confusing on purpose.

Voter IDs requirements can easily be selectively enforced or abused.

Don’t turn a blind eye to voter suppression that’s happening right before our eyes.

By Hypatia Livingston

"Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all."Writer, thinker, researcher, philosopher.

7 thoughts on “50 Years Later, Harvard Students Take And Fail Louisiana Literacy Test”
  1. You have to love when stuff like this is still around. It is not about getting the best man or woman for the job, but making sure the colors match up. Trying to explain some of this insanity to my kids is like pulling teeth. There is no nice answer for why so many things like this exist within our history.

    1. Oh, good grief. I have no particular alignment or inclination towards the Dems myself, but don’t attempt to re-write history. The Republican party of 1870 can’t be compared to the current one.
      I’m not quite sure what people attempt to accomplish with these arguments.
      Actually, I guess I do know. An attempt to re-write the Republican party as being the party that has always been on the side of the disenfranchised in this country even as its current mouthpieces spew rhetoric completely counter to that platform. Cute.

      1. How is stating a historical fact an attempt to “re-write” history? Re-writing history would be Dems claiming to always have been on the side of the “disenfranchised”. The “rhetoric” I hear is the race baiting and divisive speech coming from the Left. I am very cute, thank you! Off to shuttle the kids around, have a great day!

    2. It’s no secret that Democrats used to have diffrent views back in the day. ……There has obviously be a shift since then. Same views, different party I.e Republicans are nothing more than old Democrats.

      1. The Democrat party would not agree with you on that. Democrats still cling tight to their elitist/racist views. Even Joe Biden/Harry Reid had racist statements about the POTUS.

  2. Wow, this is a great point. I had heard about those literary tests but didn’t know they were designed to be selectively enforced. Really allows people to rig the democratic system to their liking.

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