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The Plot Twist Ending of Black Men’s Suffrage in WI

On April 3rd, 1866, Black men were able to vote in Wisconsin for the first time ever thanks to the work of one Ezekiel Gillespie.

In 1865, Gillespie, a Black leader in Milwaukee, attempted to register to vote under the provisions of the 1848 state constitution. Instead, Gillespie was denied the right to register by county officials and took them to court with the help of attorney Byron Paine.

In a ruling following the denial, the Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Black people could vote in 1866, and had been entitled to since 1849. With the ruling, Gillespie secured the male Black vote in Wisconsin, becoming one of the first states in the U.S. to do so.

Learn more about Gillespie from the Wisconsin Historical Society and be sure to check out the TikTok below!


Had the @aclu been around they wouldn’t have let this 💩 slide for 16 yrs. #blackfacts #wisconsinhistory #asgoeswisconsin #blackhistory

♬ Blue Blood – Heinz Kiessling & Various Artists


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