South Carolina Voter Suppression – John Yeldell (aka Rev. Elijah Flemon): A 19th Century Black Political Activist

19th-century South Carolina voter suppression created a now-forgotten Black political activist.

elijah flemon
Rev Elijah Flemon is the elderly gentleman seated at the head of the table. Picture credit: African Americans in Mercer County by Roland Barksdale-Hall, Arcadia Publishing, 2009 via https://books.google.com/books?id=AZa95glVhqoC&pg=PA28&dq=elijah+flemon&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjspZHZlaDXAhUs1oMKHVNKBmIQ6AEIKDAA#v=onepage&q=elijah%20flemon&f=false

Born in Edgefield, SC at the end of slavery, John would go on to become a household name in the America of the 1880s. He was more famous than Frederick Douglass for a spell. It’s a story that has fascinated me for years, once that my cousin Donya Williams shared with me.

The story of John Yeldell (aka the Rev Elijah Flemon) is worthy of a movie. Sincerely. The twists and turns are incredible.  However, as Donya Williams has written about him in her book, Comes to the Light: The Entangled Families of Edgefield County, it’s a story I have left for her to tell.

You can get a great overview of his history in the video below:


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