By John F. Marszalek
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Additional resources for A Black Congressman in the Age of Jim Crow: South Carolina's George Washington Murray
Unfortunately for him, Murray’s full-blooded Negroid features were not preferred to Miller’s lighter hue. The “Canary,” as the mulatto Miller was called, received the crowd’s support. In his own county, however, Murray was the beneficiary of pro-black feeling. Brayton was heckled, and a slate of pro-Murray delegates was elected in Stateburg, a town close to Murray’s farm and the scene of his 1889 Colored Alliance speech. A mulatto expressed the attitude of many district voters when he demanded the nomination of a black man to demonstrate forthrightly that there were qualified blacks available for public office.
19 Murray’s expulsion from the state’s university demonstrated that blacks like him had been put in their place through the return of this white leadership. Murray returned to northwest Sumter County, to his life of school teaching and farming. Although he demonstrated no political ambitions, he no doubt was concerned about his right to vote, so the political changes he was witnessing in his county and his state had to be disturbing. But he had more personal matters on his mind. A twenty-four-year-old man of dark skin, he married a light-skinned twelve-year-old named Ella Reynolds.
The Republicans reaction to their disfranchisement predicament was to withdraw from the political scene. Murray’s newly acquired leadership role meant little in the face of the White Conservatives’ increasingly successful electoral disfranchisement. Murray still had his land to farm, and he continued teaching. Between 1884 From Slavery to Public Life / 13 and 1889 when Grover Cleveland was president and Republicans were in political limbo in South Carolina, he taught at School District No. 8–Rafting Creek.
A Black Congressman in the Age of Jim Crow: South Carolina's George Washington Murray by John F. Marszalek