History of Black Voting Rights: 6 Interesting Facts

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According to recent statistics, the number of eligible black voters in the US has increased at a higher pace in the recent past. It’s projected black eligible voters will soon get to over 32.7 million. The Black voters also stand out for their high voter turnout rates, which are 51%. This is higher than the Latino and Asian turnout rates of 40% for each group. 

The struggle over black voting rights in the US dates back to the nation’s founding. The initial US Constitution never defined voting rights for citizens until 1870. Initially, only white citizens were allowed to vote. However, the Fifteenth Amendment and the Twenty-fourth Amendment changed that.

In this article, we will list 6 interesting facts you need to know about the history of black voting rights. 

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Reconstruction Ammendments and Voting Rights Period Before the Voting Rights Act

After the Civil War, black Americans used the Reconstruction Amendments to democratize the South. However, only men were to vote in the formal elections. Children and Women did take part in voting on delegates, platforms, and the black community meetings.

Black women used to accompany men to polls carrying weapons for protection. The community’s engagement led to progressive laws, including policies that laid a free universal public education foundation. Like other rights secured by the Black American struggles, the black votes expanded their benefits beyond the black community. 

Voting Rights Federal Protection Is Still Important 

In 2013, a divided US Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act and argued that the focus on the past confederacy is arbitrary and unnecessary. It forced the Supreme Court to do away with the pre-clearance requirement for up to nine southern states. The Department of Justice can no longer check for racial bias in the new laws. 

Due to the widespread efforts of trying to block access to voting in regions across the nations not governed by the federal review, it can be arbitrary to hold previous Confederate states to different standards. However, the states’ response, together with other voter suppression forms enacted in the country, makes it clear that there’s a need for proactive and robust tools to protect the voting rights of all citizens, including black Americans, marginalized groups, and other immigrants. 

The Voting Rights Act needs to be extended instead of being curtailed. Future historians will look back at today’s ex-felon disenfranchisement, voter ID laws, and other voter suppression forms.

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Attacks and Rolling Back of Black Voting Rights Throughout History

Domestic terrorism and massive fraud overthrew black American political power gained during Reconstruction. The federal government regained control over local and state governments. The entire process and timing varied across the South. However, in the end, the whites established Jim Crow laws which were quite oppressive. The rules remained in place until the modern civil rights movement. 

Willington, North Carolina, is an excellent example. Here, whites in the Democratic Party overthrew the integrated and legitimately elected local government, destroyed the black newspaper, and murdered black citizens. 

SNCC Append to Traditional Ideas on Who Qualified to Vote

The white supremacists responded to voting rights by changing the registration procedure. They evicted people. And also burnt and bombed churches and homes. The white officials afterwards made good use of the few black Americans registered to vote to claim they had no interest in politics.

However, SNCC organized freedom days. The first Freedom Day was in Selma, Alabama, in 1963, and later in Hattiesburg, Mississippi 1964. Regardless of the rain or the scorching sun, people lined up to demonstrate their voting desire. They remained in the lines and refused to give in to the intimidation and threats from the whites. 

SNCC working with COFO, a civil rights group, organized a freedom vote, the Congressional challenge, and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Each was designed to help demonstrate that blacks had an interest in voting and politics. They also offered an essential experiential education for individuals exempted from political activities for over a decade. 

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Federal Government Has Been Playing Contrary Role in Voting Rights Fight 

The Supreme Court outlawed discriminatory practices such as the poll tax, the white primary, and the grandfather clause. However, the federal government played a substantial passive role in this. 

Several other national government branches undermined the Kennedy Justice Department’s work, using what Bob Moses, a civil rights activist, calls the crawl space. 

The 1957 Civil Rights Act created the crawl space to help file lawsuits charging several Southern officials with racial discrimination during voter registration. 

There are white supremacist judges who block the work of the department at every turn. The FBI reluctantly carried out investigations. Despite promising to protect any person working on voter registration, the FBI refused to offer protection to civil rights workers even when they were being attacked on federal property.

The Kennedy administration backtracked. More lives would have been lost if Black Americans hadn’t used weapons to protect themselves. 

The struggle for Modern Voting Rights Had Deep Roots in the Rural South

There were times when Black Americans prioritized securing land ownership, improving educational opportunities, and developing institutions like churches and schools. This offered an essential base for the civil rights movement, although they never conceded their voting rights. 

Despite being exceptionally dangerous at times, there were women and men constantly trying to register to participate in the poll. 

Back in 1944, the NAACP won a massive case. Smith v. Allwright ruled it was unconstitutional for only white voters to participate in political primaries. The order increased black voter registration, which saw black veterans returning home from overseas. Medgar Evers was one of the veterans who became Mississippi’s first NAACP field secretary. Unfortunately, he was assassinated in June 1963 for his civil rights work. 

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The above facts will enlighten you about the history of black voting rights. Gaining the right to vote and full citizenship rights was central to securing accurate and complete freedom for Black Americans.Get yourself a collection of different books on Amazon to learn more, 

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