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Robert Purvis (1810-1898)
In honor of Black History Month, all month long we will be sharing the legacies and stories of the heroes, sheroes, and events in the fight for Black suffrage on social media under the hashtag #VRABlackHistory. Follow us on Twitter (@VRAmatters) to share your own facts.
Today we honor Robert Pruvis, a Black man who lost his voting rights in the early 1800’s in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On March 14, 1838, Pruvis submitted a petition to fight for his and 40,000 other Black Philadelphians' voting rights in response to a new state constitutional amendment that restricted suffrage to only White men.
"Despite the massive effort put into the Appeal of Forty Thousand and similar documents, the citizens of Pennsylvania ratified the new state constitution on October 9, 1838. African Americans would not regain the right to vote in Pennsylvania until the 15th Amendment was passed in 1869. Although the Appeal of Forty Thousand did not successfully move white Pennsylvanians, it represented the beginning of a massive civil rights movement targeting the institutions of slavery and discrimination. The actions of early activists like Robert Purvis set African Americans on the path to the political freedom that would be gained by the end of the 19th century."