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Aged Minister Becomes First Negro Eligible to Vote in Louisiana Parish Since 1902

Oct. 17, 1963 - An elderly Baptist clergyman became today the first Negro eligible to vote in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, since 1902. The Reverend Joe Carter (left) managed to register even though white residents formed a human chain across the main entrance to the courthouse. Four other Negroes took registration tests, but all failed. Thirty-eight more were waiting for examinations when the office closed 90 minutes ahead of schedule. Rev. Carter was one of 43 Negroes who went to the courthouse today to register under the observation of a Justice Department representative and agents of the FBI. White residents of St. Francisville tried to block the courthouse entrance, but the Negroes entered through a side door. The assistant parish registrar, Joe Cutrer, told the Negroes who wanted to register that they would have to wait their turn. He said that nine whites were ahead of them, that each white would be tested separately, and that each had 40 minutes to take his test. Thus, the office might close before the Negroes took their tests, he said. But the whites finished before the office closed. Mr. Carter went in and came out 35 minutes later, waving his registration form.

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