In Rural Texas, Black Students’ Fight for Voting Access Conjures a Painful Past


First came the poll taxes and whites-only primaries that targeted African Americans in this southeastern Texas community. In recent decades, students at the historically black Prairie View A&M University were required to complete a “residency questionnaire” to prove their eligibility to vote. They saw their power at the ballot box diluted when their campus was carved into separate districts. Some were arrested when they tried to cast ballots, accused of improper voting. Then came the 2018 midterm elections, when county leaders scheduled fewer early-voting hours on the university campus than in whiter communities nearby.

“Here we go again,” Jayla Allen, a third-generation Prairie View student, thought angrily at the time. She and other students sued, determined to fight what they viewed as racial injustice just as others had done in the past, she said. Read more.