“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Kendleton in Fort Bend County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

Terry v. Adams

<i>Terry v. Adams</i> Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Dave W, February 27, 2022
1. Terry v. Adams Marker
During the first half of the 20th century, the U. S. Supreme Court heard a series of significant Texas voting rights cases which collectively ended the “white primary” system established in many areas of the South after the Civil War. White primaries were unofficial, pre-election polls barred to African Americans that effectively prevented them from having any political influence.

In 1950, African Americans Willie Melton, a farmer, and Arizona Fleming, a businesswoman, began a suffrage movement in Fort Bend County that led to legal action. John Terry and other black county residents agreed to lend their names as plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit filed against A.J. Adams and other officers of the Jay Bird Democratic Association. The Jay Birds functioned as a whites-only political organization that operated unofficial “straw elections” to select Democratic nominees for local elections. Since most Texans consistently voted for Democratic candidates, any nominee selected by the Jay Birds invariably won in the general elections.

The case was heard in U.S. District Court in Houston, and the court ruled in favor of the
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plaintiffs, because the Jay Birds were operating as a political party and therefore subject to state and federal laws protecting voters’ rights. The ruling enabled the county’s African Americans to vote in an upcoming Jay Bird primary election. An appeal filed by the Jay Birds was heard in 1951 by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, who overturned the original judgment. In 1952, local supporters raised funds to enable an appeal to be filed. The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in January 1953 and in Terry v. Adams upheld the original ruling in favor of the plaintiffs. By 1959, the Jay Bird Democratic Association had suspended activities.
Erected 2009 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 16252.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansCharity & Public WorkCivil Rights. A significant historical year for this entry is 1950.
Location. 29° 26.856′ N, 96° 0.108′ W. Marker is in Kendleton, Texas, in Fort Bend County. Marker is on Willie Melton Boulevard west of Main Street (County Road 2919), on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 136335 Willie Melton Blvd, Kendleton TX 77451, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Kendleton (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Kendleton
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(about 600 feet away); Powell Point School (approx. 2½ miles away); Site of Quinan Community (approx. 5.6 miles away); J. D. Hudgins Ranch (approx. 5.6 miles away); Site of Post West Bernard Station (approx. 5.7 miles away); New York, Texas & Mexican Railroad and The Community of Hungerford (approx. 5.7 miles away); Beasley (approx. 6.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Kendleton.
Additional keywords. Terry v. Adams
Credits. This page was last revised on November 29, 2022. It was originally submitted on November 29, 2022, by Dave W of Co, Colorado. This page has been viewed 39 times since then and 3 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on November 29, 2022, by Dave W of Co, Colorado. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. A wide shot of the marker in context. • Can you help?

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Feb. 4, 2023