January 14, 1868: Black Delegates Had Voice At State Convention
On January 14, 1868, a North Carolina constitutional convention, now known as the “Convention of 1868,” opened in Raleigh.
The convention was required by an act of Congress which ordered North Carolina to create a new state constitution. The General Assembly decided to hold a referendum in November 1867 to choose delegates to a constitutional convention to be held in early 1868.
Many former Confederate leaders had not yet taken an Oath of Allegiance to the United States and were not eligible to vote or serve. Chosen for the convention were 107 Republicans and 13 Democrats. The members of the first “Black Caucus” were all Republicans.
The participants of the Black Caucus were not legislators, exactly. But they came together at the State Capitol in January 1868 to take part in a very important process— to expand freedom for all.
The members of this first Black Caucus were: James Walker Hood; Parker Robbins; Henry Cherry; Bryant Lee; Wilson Carey; Clinton Pierson; John H. Williamson; Cuffie Mayo; Henry Eppes; W.T.J Hayes; John Hyman; Abraham Galloway and James H. Harris.
Other related resources:
· A Change is Gonna Come, an online exhibit from the N.C. Museum of History
· A History of African Americans in North Carolina from N.C. Historical Publications
· Resources related to black history from the State Library