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109-Year-Old Daughter of Slave Votes Obama

Amanda Jones

Amanda Jones, 109, recently mailed in a vote for Barack Obama. Larry Kolvoord, American-Statesman hide caption

itoggle caption Larry Kolvoord, American-Statesman

How far we've come. An elderly Texas woman, the daughter of a slave, is helping to make history by voting for Barack Obama. Unlike previous elections held in her long life, like when she voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt, this one doesn't feature such discriminatory practices as "poll taxes." Yes, there was a time when Americans actually had to pay to vote.

According to the Austin-American Statesman:

Amanda Jones, a delicate, thin woman wearing golden-rimmed glasses, giggled as the family discussed this year's presidential election. She is too weak to go the polls, so two of her 10 children — Eloise Baker, 75, and Joyce Jones — helped her fill out a mail-in ballot for Barack Obama, Baker said. "I feel good about voting for him," Amanda Jones said.

Jones' father herded sheep as a slave until he was 12, according to the family, and once he was freed, he was a farmer who raised cows, hogs and turkeys on land he owned. Her mother was born right after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

Amanda Jones' father urged her to exercise her right to vote, despite discriminatory practices at the polls and poll taxes meant to keep black and poor people from voting. Those practices were outlawed for federal elections with the 24th Amendment in 1964, but not for state and local races in Texas until 1966.

Amanda Jones says she cast her first presidential vote for Franklin Roosevelt, but she doesn't recall which of his four terms that was. When she did vote, she paid a poll tax, her daughters said. That she is able, for the first time, to vote for a black presidential nominee for free fills her with joy.

Jones isn't alone. Watch below as 114-year-old Gertrude Baines — believed to be the oldest living woman of African descent in the world — casts her vote. Pretty amazing stuff.

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