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George W. Murray
*This date spotlights the birth of George Washington Murray in 1853. He was a Black farmer, politician, teacher, and inventor.
He was born in Rembert (Sumter County) South Carolina, attended public schools, the University of South Carolina and the State Normal Institute at Columbia; graduating in 1876. While a farmer, he lectured for the Colored Farmers’ Alliance and participated in local Republican politics. He was appointed inspector of customs at the port of Charleston in 1890, the same year he ran (and lost) for the Republican nomination to Congress. He tried again and defeated Brayton Miller and Robert Smalls in the “eight ballot box” ruled election. This was designed to prevent large numbers of Blacks from voting.
Murray sat on the Committee on Education in the Fifty-third Congress in 1893. In 1894 he ran against William Elliott, with numerous obstacles to voter registration for Blacks. He was defeated but appealed, the board rejected his appeal but the House upheld it and he won. 1896 he was defeated at a time when Black voter registration had been severely constrained. Murray went back to farming, investing in tracts of land sold to Black tenant farmers.
He was a leader in the struggle to protect Black voting rights in the post Reconstruction south. Later in his life, George W. Murray moved to Chicago where he died on April 21st, 1926.
Black Americans In Congress 1870-1989.
Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Treese
U.S. Government Printing Office
Raymond W. Smock, historian and director 1990