Rosanell Eaton was among the first set of Afro-Americans to cast their vote in North Carolina, her home state. She was also an advocate of voting rights almost all her life and is seen by many as a true icon of equality. In an official statement released by Eaton’s family, it was stated that she died at home over the weekend at the age of 97.
Eaton who spent a great fraction of her life advocating against anti-black laws was celebrated recently by former POTUS, Barack Obama as an “unsung American hero.” The icon who was born in April 14, 1921 cast her first vote at the age of 21 in 1942. Before Eaton could register to cast her vote she was subjected to a literacy test and also quote a preamble to the US constitution by heart. This was a technique devised to marginalize minorities at the time.
The entire NC State Conference of Branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is called to a most solemn moment. With news of the transition of Mother Rosa Nell Eaton the 94 year old Matriarch of our movement (1 of 3) pic.twitter.com/87IWJnCeMs
— North Carolina NAACP (@ncnaacp) December 9, 2018
In a letter by Obama to the New York Times sometime in 2015 he praised the likes of Eaton as the reason he could stand a chance to become President. He applauded their resilience, selflessness and doggedness to ensure that blacks gained equality in the fullest of measures.
Till the last ten years of her life Eaton, who had grown up on a small North Carolina farm, fought for equal voting rights. In 2013 she agreed to be the lead plaintiff in federal suit that challenged H.B. 589, a law that was discriminatory in nature which had received full backing by the State Republicans. At the time she was already in her 90s.
We’re saddened by the death of Mother RosaNell Eaton. Mrs. Eaton was the Matriarch of the Forward Together Moral Movement. Mother Eaton was the lead plaintiff in the Historic NC NAACP v McCrory Voting Rights Case. She fought tirelessly to protecting our precious right to vote. pic.twitter.com/WuvbSdxghi
— North Carolina Poor People’s Campaign (@NC_PPC) December 9, 2018
Several individuals and bodies have since sent in their condolences to Rosanell Eaton’s family and most have also taken to twitter to celebrate the icon on her passing.