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Oklahoma should feel pride about new House speaker

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Modified: January 4, 2013 at 4:30 pm •  Published: January 6, 2013

To curtail black voting and Republican power, Democrats successfully advanced a constitutional amendment requiring a literacy test to vote and banning anyone from voting who had not done so before January 1, 1866, or was not descended from someone voting before that date.

On Sept. 8, 1910, the New-State Tribune in Oklahoma City approvingly declared the amendment was designed to “check ‘Negro domination'” and “eliminate Negro members of the legislature.”

Sadly, the amendment worked as intended. On Nov. 26, 1910, the Shawnee Daily Herald reported Hamlin lost his race by just 16 votes “when the county election board refused to receive returns from five precincts where a heavy Negro vote was cast.”

Hamlin died in 1912, and there's no way to know what he would think of the modern Democratic and Republican parties. But having been derided as a legislative “black spot,” does anyone doubt that Hamlin would take pride in seeing Shannon preside over a chamber that's still predominantly white?

All Oklahomans should do the same. It's a sign of enormous racial progress that race isn't an issue in Shannon's ascent.

And should you hear a loud whirring noise upon Shannon's leadership election, pay it no mind. That's just the sound of long-dead racists spinning in their graves.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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