This chapter discusses the participation of Illinois Negroes in politics, including elections. Having been given the right to vote by federal and state constitutions, Illinois Negroes began to organize for political action about five years after the close of the Civil War. Although George White had been appointed town crier of Chicago in 1837 and John Jones had been elected as a Cook County Commissioner in 1871, Cairo's Negro voters in 1873 demonstrated for the first time the effect of organization on a racial basis across the state. They rallied around and elected him as police magistrate, the second best office in the city. This chapter looks at the success of a number of Negroes in Illinois electoral politics as well as those who had been appointed to various political posts and others who wielded considerable political power in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, from I. I. Bird and William Hale Thompson to Adelbert H. Roberts, Earl B. Dickerson, John “Mushmouth” Johnson, Daniel M. Jackson, and Marcus Garvey.
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