The Importance of the African American Vote

With elections being held tomorrow, are we ready to vote? For the past couple of months, I have had the privilege to witness Stacey Abrams, campaign to be the next governor of Georgia, img_4945who looks like me— a strong, educated, melanin woman. Although I am not a resident of the Peach State, I am excited to see what is to come. November 6th is literally tomorrow and my question to you, are you ready to rock the vote? To be able to vote as an American is such a privilege but to be able to vote as an African American is something extraordinary. Just the other night, I had a wonderful conversation with a few young professionals and of course, the topic of politics was introduced to our conversation. Truly, it is astonishing to be around individuals who share the same beliefs and opinions as yourself, in addition, having someone who challenges others to think outside of the general norm. From that conversation, I was left pondering on number of ideas— What is the importance of the African American vote? Why is this election so imperative at this present time? What does this mean for African Americans? How many will rock the vote?
Again, we have the privilege to take action in America during a time in which truly needs it the most. During this year, our country has definitely had trials and tribulations, in addition, our African American community continues to be perceived as a threat to American society. There is a laundry list of concerns that need to be addressed as soon as possible, however, the only step that we can take at this very moment is activating our right to vote. As African Americans, we need to understand that we hold so much power but when we unite, we are a force to be reckoned with. When we look back on how far we have come, we understand things such as the 15th Amendment. The 15th Amendment, which was adopted into the United States Constitution in 1870 allows African American men the right to vote. In the late 1870s, discriminatory practices were used to prevent African Americans from exercising their right to vote. In later years to come, the 19th Amendment was introduced and this amendment granted women the right to vote.
Before the Civil War began, African Americans had only been able to vote in a few northern states, and there were no African American officeholders. Shortly after the Union victory, there was an extensive mobilization within the African American community, with meetings, parades, and petitions calling for legal and political rights. Within the first two years of the Reconstruction Era, black organized Equal Rights Leagues throughout the South and held state and local conventions to protest discriminatory treatment and demand suffrage, as well as equality before the law.
We also understand other things such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 known as one of the most far-reaching pieces of civil rights legislation in United States history. This particular act was passed in response to Jim Crow laws and various restrictions of minorities’ voting rights. Civil Rights activists worked diligently for years to obtain voting rights for all Americans but due to the national attention from the murder of activists in Mississippi and Philadelphia, acts of violence and terrorism, these events propelled the movement forward. This act bannedRock-the-Vote-Shows-Results-2 the use of literacy tests, provided for federal oversight of voter registration in areas where less than 50 percent of the non-white population had not registered to vote, and authorized the U. S. attorney general to investigate the use of poll taxes in state and local elections. Well after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, state and local law enforcement were weak and it often was ignored outright, mainly in the South and in areas where the proportion of blacks in the population were high and their vote threatened the political status quo. The Voting Rights Act has definitely evolved but is the foundation for protecting our right to vote. This act has allowed African Americans voters the legal means to challenge voting restrictions and vastly improved voter turnout. Make sure that you know your rights when you are at the polls! (If you experience any issues, please contact your local civil rights attorney.)
With a brief glimpse of our history, let us all be reminded of how things used to be in order to get to where we need to be. How amazing is it that we are able to reap the benefits of our ancestors working diligently because they believed in equality amongst all individuals. Again, due to their hard work and determination, we are able to make sure our voice is heard. So it is not enough that we only talk about how great the next governor will be if we do not take action and get to the polls. It does not do any good if we only speak of voting amongst our co-workers, family, and friends. We must take a stance and go to the polls!

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