Jay: I call this man a true survivor of the Jim Crow era.
At 103, Lithonia man votes for the 1st time
By CHRISTIAN BOONE
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sunday, November 02, 2008
In his 103 years, Ernest Smith says, he never drank, smoked or voted.
Though he’s yet to sample tobacco or alcohol, on Thursday, Smith cast his first ballot — for Democratic nominee Barack Obama.
Marcus K. Garneremail@example.com
Ernest Smith cast his first ballot during early voting last week. He was accompanied by his stepdaughter’s husband, Robert Elliott to the polling place at Lithonia Middle School.
“I voted, and I want to vote again,” said Smith. a testament to clean living. “It felt good.”
While the Lithonia man’s hearing is poor and his memory, spotty, Smith moves without the aid of a walker and has few wrinkles.“Loving the Lord,” he said, when asked his secret to longevity.
Born in 1905 in Pembroke, N.C., Smith lived most of his life there and was first eligible to vote in 1928, when then the voting age was 21.
But for African-Americans like Smith, suffrage was far from universal. Literacy tests and poll taxes were enacted through much of the Jim Crow South to suppress black turnout.
Had Smith attempted to vote in 1928 — he says he never tried to register — his choices would have been Herbert Hoover, campaigning as a Republican maverick, and Democrat Al Smith who, like Obama, was a historic nominee.