|September 24, 2012||This is my right...I will not take it for granted.||no comments|
As an African-American, I have no excuse for not voting in the November, 2012 presidential election. It took a long time to get the right to vote. I do not take this right lightly. Too many people have suffered and died so that future generations will have the right to vote. Sometimes it is good to review the past to see just how far we have come.
The right for black voters to participate in elections was first granted in the United States Constitution on February 3, 1870, with the ratification of the 15th Amendment. The right was designed to prevent discrimination against men regardless of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." However, this provision was effectively ignored by many states in the country for nearly a hundred years. It was not until the 1965 passage of the National Voting Rights Act that overall disenfranchisement of black voters was again addressed. This law prevents the discrimination of any eligible voters from any of the limitations put in place since the passage of the 15th Amendment.
During the period following the passage of the 15th Amendment, black voting was commonplace throughout the country. On March 31, 1870, Thomas Mundy Peterson, in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, became the first African-American to vote. Throughout the South, black voters showed up to the polls in droves and helped pass a number of pieces of progressive legislation by voting for many African-American representatives. This period of racial diversity in government and freedom for black voters ended when President Rutherford B. Hayes removed federal troops, stationed since the end of the Civil War, from the South in the late 1870s.
During the period between ratification of the 15th Amendment and passage of the National Voting Rights Act, black voters faced a number of difficult challenges at the polls. Among the most notable of these challenges were poll taxes, literacy tests and downright discrimination due to the color of their skin. Poll taxes were installed to charge voters money to vote. Literacy tests were intent on preventing people with language challenges from voting. Both were directed at black voters, specifically the poor and underprivileged.
In response to the increase of discrimination against black voters in the 1950s, a number of individuals and organizations traveled to the South to help register voters and inform residents of their rights. Two of the most important groups performing this task during the era were the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Along with the education programs and registration efforts, these voting efforts were joined by protests, such as sit-ins and marches.
The largest effect black voters have had in the outcome of an election in voting history came on November 7, 2008, with the election of Barack Obama to the office of President of the United States. According to a Pew Research Center report issued on April 30, 2009, the effects of black voters were very significant. Never before had the population of eligible black voters attended the polls on a single day to that degree. African-Americans joined with other ethnic groups, such as Hispanics and Asians, to account for 25 percent of the electorate, a record in voting history. We can make history again by encouraging everyone of voting age in our family to vote. We need to make sure that our family members have all their documents needed to vote…not by telling them what they need, but by providing the transportation and patients needed to help them get it. As for me and my house, we are voting to re-elect President Barack Obama to the office of President of the United States. For we have come too far to turn back now.