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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: March 2020

7 - Virginia, Texas, North Carolina, and Alabama

from Part II - Southern Republican Party Politics at the State Level

Summary

In four former Confederate states, the Lily-White movement not only succeeded in taking control of the local Republican party organization but subsequently used this control to exclude blacks from participating in the party either entirely (North Carolina and Alabama) or nearly so (Virginia and Texas). These white Republicans went the exclusion route despite many other Lily-White-controlled states allowing black Republicans to continue participating in the party to some extent. Why did white Republicans in these four states choose to implement Lily-Whiteism in such a "strong" way? As the case studies presented here show, there is no consistent answer to this question. The path toward Lily-White control, and the subsequent nature of white rule in the state GOP, was dependent (at least in part) on the unique historical context in each state. For example, in Virginia, black Republicans were excluded from the party much earlier than in most other states. Local party leaders consistently kept black representation at national conventions close to zero, and even criticized the local Democratic Party for becoming the "black party" during the New Deal era. In Texas, the Lily-White Movement was a response to a black man – Norris Wright Cuney – controlling the state party organization in the 1880s and 1890s. After the end of Cuney’s rule, Lily-Whites took control of the party and expelled nearly all blacks from participation in state and national conventions. In North Carolina, the Lily-White takeover followed the dramatic events of the 1898 and 1900 elections, in which extreme violence against (black) Republicans instigated the passing of new voter laws banning black participation. In response, white GOP leaders explicitly banned blacks from the party organization entirely in 1902. Finally, in Alabama, Lily-White control came in 1912 and resulted in a slow but consistent reduction of black delegates at the national convention until no blacks were left in the state’s national convention delegation from 1924 onwards.