150 Years After Ratification of the 15th Amendment, Black Votes Are Still Contested

0
297
National Colored Convention 1869
“The National Colored Convention in Session at Washington, DC.” Harper’s Weekly (February 6, 1869). Courtesy of the Library Company of Philadelphia, https://librarycompany.org

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” So reads the 15th Amendment, ratified on February 3, 1870, the third of what came to be known as the Reconstruction amendments.

The Black fight for the franchise

By Mel Reeves, Community Editor, Minnesota Spokesman-Review
As conservatives in some states continue to assault the fundamental right of citizens to vote by purging voter rolls, requiring certain ID’s and adding onerous burdens to dissuade folks from voting it’s important to note that this is nothing new. In fact, this week marks the 150thAnniversary of the Republican Party’s effort to put a halt of the former Confederate states’ and some former Union states’ efforts to prevent the newly freed slaves from exercising the franchise.
Voting, or the ability to have a say or at least the appearance of a voice, is seen as a fundamental, basic, guaranteed right in American democracy. Taxation without representation is what led to this country’s violent break with its then-colonial master England.
Electioneering in the South circa 1868
Electioneering in the South, circa 1868. Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library, https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e1-3fa3-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The right to vote is seen in the U.S. as one of the most fundamental tenets of the nation’s democracy. However, historically many people who qualified as citizens of the republic were denied the right to vote from the beginning, including women and poor White men. In the early days of the Republic, the franchise was given only to White males who owned property.
Immediately after the Civil War, as a result of Union soldiers being stationed in Southern states, newly freed slaves were allowed to vote. Before the passing of the 15th Amendment, Congress had passed the Territorial Suffrage Act as means of allowing Blacks to vote in the newly opened U.S. territories.
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” So reads the 15th Amendment, ratified on February 3, 1870, the third of what came to be known as the Reconstruction amendments.
The Reconstruction amendments included the 13th, which outlawed slavery, and the 14th, which granted citizenship to the freed slaves as well as guaranteeing equal protection under the law.
The 15th Amendment was passed by the United States Congress in 1869 in a move designed to assure the right to vote to its newly freed ex- slaves.