The Oath of the Negro Voter (1918)

The Oath of the Negro Voter (1918)

As one of the Earth’s Disowned I swear to hold my Ballot as the sacred pawn of Liberty for all mankind and for my prisoned race.

I will accept no price for my priceless Vote, save alone just laws, honestly dealt, without regard to color, wealth or strength. I will make the first and foremost aim of my voting the Enfranchisement of every citizen, male and female; and particularly the restoring of the stolen franchise to my people, by which continuing theft the 1 enemies of the Negro race sit in high places today and wretchedly misgovern.

I will make the second object of my voting the division of the Social Income on the principle that he who does not work, be he rich or poor, may not eat; and that Land and Capital ought to belong to the Many and not to the Few.

I will accept no Office which I cannot efficiently fill; I will judge all Officials by their service to the common weal and I will not regard the mere giving of Office to my friends as payment for my support of any party.

I will judge all Political Parties not by their past deeds or their future promises but simply by the present acts of the Officials who represent them, and I will cast my vote for or against those officials accordingly.

I will scan carefully the Record of every candidate for whom I must vote and especially of Congressmen, Legislators and local Officials, learning what manner of man each is, how he has carried out his trust and what pledges he makes in general; and in particular I will ask his attitude toward my race.

I hereby solemnly pledge myself to join with others like-minded to myself in thus before each election, agreeing upon a list of suitable Candidates who by their records or promises seem most likely to secure good government and justice to black folk, and I will vote for these candidates, regardless of their party, race or sex.

I will have firm faith in Democracy, despite its mistakes and inefficiency, knowing that in no other way can the common Experience, Want and Will be pooled for the common good, and that no Despot or Aristocrat can ever be wise or good enough to rule his fellowmen.

In order to accomplish the above ends I hereby entrust the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and its local branches with the investigation and co-operation necessary to the listing of suitable candidates for my franchise at each election.

Persons minded to sign the above oath will send their names to the Editor of The Crisis.

Citation: Du Bois, W.E.B. 1918. “The Oath of the Negro Voter.” The Crisis. 15(1):7.