Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)
2020 Call for Posters: African Americans and the Vote
105th Annual Meeting and Conference
Montgomery, AL

The Deadline has been extended to April 30, 2020. 

The 2020 ASALH Program Committee invites submissions for posters that address the conference theme, “African Americans and the Vote,” but any timely subject of interest to African American history will be considered. Submissions are welcome from all ASALH members, especially students and new professionals. Presenters must be available to discuss their posters and projects during the session.

Poster sessions are a means to communicate and exchange ideas, programs, research, and projects to fellow ASALH meeting attendees. This is a forum for exchanging innovative ideas, and for useful feedback and discussion. Viewers have an opportunity to become acquainted with new work quickly and easily and have more time to study the information and discuss it with presenters.  Posters are often used to showcase a completed project, or to communicate ideas about research in progress. Poster sessions may present any of the following:

  • a description of an innovative program
  • an examination of a practical, problem-solving endeavor
  • an explanation of a research investigation
  • novel projects or case studies
  • branch histories
  • community and/individual profiles

Conference theme

ASALH’s 2020 theme comes as the nation marks the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment (1920) and celebrates the sesquicentennial of the Fifteenth Amendment (1870). These constitutional amendments reshaped the American political landscape with the culmination of suffrage for women and granting black men the right to the ballot after the Civil War. The theme speaks, therefore, to the ongoing struggle on the part of both black men and black women for the right to vote.

The national discussion that centered around the struggles of African Americans and the vote has a rich and long history, which begins at the turn of the nineteenth century during  the era of the Early Republic. It was here we see states passing laws that democratized the vote for white men while disenfranchising free black men. Thus, even before the Civil War, black men petitioned their legislatures and the US Congress, seeking to be recognized as voters. With the conclusion of the war, states still found ways to circumvent the Constitution and prevent blacks from voting. Poll taxes, literacy tests, fraud and intimidation all turned African Americans away from the polls. Until the Supreme Court struck it down in 1915, many states used the “grandfather clause” to keep descendants of slaves out of elections. The clause said you could not vote unless your grandfather had voted — an impossibility for most people whose ancestors were slaves.

Tensions between abolitionists and women’s suffragists first surfaced in the aftermath of the Civil War, while black disenfranchisement laws in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries undermined the guarantees in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments for the great majority of southern blacks until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The important contribution of black suffragists occurred not only within the larger women’s movement, but within the larger black voting rights movement.

The suffragist movement was not without its own issues – some suffragettes were unwilling to entertain the notion of allowing black women the right to vote. There was resentment in the suffrage movement over the 15th Amendment and the fact that black men were given the right to vote before women. This drove a considerable wedge between white suffragists like Susan B. Anthony and black suffragists like Ida B. Wells. Other suffragettes felt violence was the best way to get their point across, which led to some group members being arrested and serving jail time.

Through voting-rights campaigns and legal suits from the turn of the twentieth century to the mid-1960s, African Americans made their voices heard as to the importance of the vote. Indeed the fight for black voting rights continues in the courts today. The theme of the vote should also include the rise of black elected and appointed officials at the local and national levels, campaigns for equal rights legislation, as well as the role of blacks in traditional and alternative political parties.

We are interested in detailed, comprehensive, and descriptive proposals that outline the theme, scope, and aim of participants. The committee particularly seeks presentations that probe the traditional fields of economic, political, diplomatic, intellectual, and cultural history; the established fields of urban, race, ethnic, labor, and women’s/gender history as well as southern, Appalachian, and western history; along with the rapidly expanding fields of sexuality, LGBT, and queer history; environmental and public history; African American intellectual history; carceral state studies; and transnational and global studies across all fields, topics, and thematic emphases.

Submission Procedures

  • Create an account through All-Academic accessed via the ASALH website 
  • All proposals must be submitted electronically to ASALH through the All Academic online system (fill out your name, title, affiliation, and contact information)
  • Choose the POSTER option from the individual presentation category 
  • A max of four presenters per poster
  • 300-word abstract with title
    • Applicants should describe how they will present the project in a poster format what kind of visual materials they will use, for example, photographs, data samples, graphs, et cetera, and how these illustrate the project or a particular aspect of the work.

Deadlines for submission:

Early Bird: March 1, 2020

Last Day: April 30, 2020 

Note: If your poster is accepted, you are expected to join the Association, register for the conference, and to stand by your poster for the duration of the poster session. If you cannot attend for any reason and do not notify the program committee in advance notice you will be expected to pay your fees. 

Review and Selection Process

The Committee will review, judge, and select abstracts using the following criteria:

  • Contribution to ASALH 2020 theme
  • Clarity of writing and organization of ideas
  • Ideas have potential to be adapted to other sites or programs
  • Creativity and originality
  • Significance for field of study

More details will be available at or contact the Poster Committee, 

Poster Specifications/Set-Up

  • Posters will be set up on easels, so they should be able to sit up on their own 
  • One poster per presenter
  • Posters typically include pictures, data, graphs, diagrams and narrative text on boards that are approximately 40×32 inches
  • Presenters are required to present their posters during scheduled times during the meeting.