Pippa Holloway, a professor of history at Middle Tennessee State University, is the author of Living in Infamy: Felon Disfranchisement and the History of American Citizenship (2014) and Sexuality, Politics, and Social Control in Virginia, 1920–1945 (2006). She is also the editor of Other Souths: Diversity and Difference in the U.S. South, Reconstruction to Present (2008). Her research on felon disfranchisement was supported, in part, by a Soros Justice Fellowship from the Open Society Foundations. She teaches courses in U.S. history, focusing on southern history, the history of incarceration, LGBT history, and historical research methods. Her current research examines the right of those charged with crimes or convicted of felonies to testify in court.
This lecture foregrounds responses in the African American community to felon disfranchisement and highlights efforts to resist these laws. I focus on three episodes. (1) African American reactions to laws disfranchising for petty theft in the 1870s. (2) Individual efforts to gain restoration of citizenship through pardons in the 1880s and 1890s. (4) Legal action taken by three African American men who challenged their disqualification from suffrage in Tennessee and Missouri in the early twentieth century.