Josiah H. Blount was born a slave in Clinton, Jones County, Georgia on September 17,1860 to father Madison Blount and his mother owned by a family named Anderson. Since Blount’s parents were owned by different families they were separated during the Civil War after their white owners became refugees. By the time Josiah parents found each other they both had married different people. Blount’s mother married William Clark and moved to Arkansas in 1873. Clark moved his family to follow Reverend Isaac H. Anderson in the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church exodus from Georgia.
Josiah H. Blount became an educator and an active Republican in both St. Francis County and Phillips County. The State Council of Defense dissolved all groups under its control near the end of 1919 and by September of 1920 Blount had challenged Wallace Townsend, the man who oversaw the work of the Colored Council, and Thomas McRae, an Ex-confederate soldier, for the Governor’s seat as an Independent candidate. “For the first time in the history of the state, the name of a negro will be submitted to the voters of Arkansas for the governorship. The name of J.H. Blount, negro of Forrest City, will appear on the ballots as Independent candidate for chief executive.” Blount obtained 15,627 votes, Townsend gained 46,339 votes, and McRae won with 123,604 votes.
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Crystal Shurley is a Public History graduate student at UA Little Rock.