This Day in History

July 18, 1946: Murder of Maceo Snipes

Time Periods: 1945
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights
Maceo Snipes | Zinn Education Project

Maceo Snipes

On July 17, 1946, World War II veteran Maceo Snipes cast his vote in the Georgia Democratic Primary, becoming the first African-American to cast a vote in Taylor County, and in a Democratic primary.

Snipes knew that he was risking his life by voting in the Jim Crow South, but he also knew that the Supreme Court had recently granted “all citizens a right to participate in the choice of elected officials without restriction by any state because of race” in Smith v. Allwright.

The next day, on July 18, four members of the local Ku Klux Klan chapter went to Snipes’ farmhouse and shot him in the back.

He walked three miles to the hospital with his mother. The doctors left him waiting for six hours. By then, he needed a blood transfusion. The doctors claimed the hospital had no “Black blood.” Snipes died two days later.

Read a detailed description by Erica Sterling of Snipes’ murder and the response from the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory University. Learn more about the context of the voting rights struggle in Georgia in the podcast, Buried Truths.

Read more stories of Black Veterans Killed in Fight for Democracy in the United States.