Excerpt from Richmond Planet, July 5, 1902

Collections in the Classroom

Grade Level

High, Middle

Time Period

1900-1950: Early 20th Century


African American History, Civil rights, Jim Crow

Resource Type

Primary Source

Download Collections in the Classroom: Richmond Planet, July 5, 1902


  • What phrase does this newspaper article from 1902 repeat? Why?
  • What message is this article trying to communicate about the “unconstitutional ‘Constitutional’ Convention” in 1902?
  • Who produced this article? Who is the audience for this article?
  • Why is representation important in government?


As editor of Richmond’s Black newspaper, The Richmond Planet, John Mitchell, Jr., often highlighted the triumphs and injustices experienced by the Black community in Virginia. In this piece, Mitchell reports on the Virginia State “unconstitutional ‘Constitutional’ Convention” that took place in 1901-1902 to rewrite the state constitution and enacted policies that disenfranchised large numbers of both Black and poor white voters. The only Virginia Constitution not ratified by the voters, the 1902 constitution concentrated power in the hands of a select group of wealthy white men. It would not be until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that many of the discriminatory policies in this state constitution would be overturned, and not until 1971 when the Virginia State Constitution would be rewritten to reverse that discrimination.