With white Democrats having regained power in the state legislature, they passed a poll tax in 1877, which disenfranchised many poor blacks and whites, preventing them from registering. In 1908, the state established a white primary; with the only competitive contests within the Democratic Party, it was another way to exclude blacks from politics. They constituted 46.7% of the state's population in 1900, but the proportion of Georgia's population that was African American dropped thereafter to 28%, primarily due to tens of thousands leaving the state during the Great Migration. According to the Equal Justice Institute's 2015 report on lynching in the United States (1877–1950), Georgia had 531 deaths, the second-highest total of these extralegal executions of any state in the South. The overwhelming number of victims were black and male. Political disfranchisement persisted through the mid-1960s, until after Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
By the 1960s, the proportion of African Americans in Georgia had declined to 28% of the state's population, after waves of migration to the North and some in-migration by whites. With their voting power diminished, it took some years for African Americans to win a state-wide office. Julian Bond, a noted civil rights leader, was elected to the state House in 1965, and served multiple terms there and in the state senate.
Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. testified before Congress in support of the Civil Rights Act, and Governor Carl Sanders worked with the Kennedy administration to ensure the state's compliance. Ralph McGill, editor and syndicated columnist at the Atlanta Constitution, earned admiration by writing in support of the Civil Rights Movement. In 1970, newly elected Governor Jimmy Carter declared in his inaugural address that the era of racial segregation had ended. In 1972, Georgians elected Andrew Young to Congress as the first African American Congressman since the Reconstruction era.