Voting is an important privilege that we, as Americans, are privy to. American history is rich with tales of people fighting and even dying, for the right to vote. From the very beginning, the spirit of America has been the pursuit of a land, a country in which the decisions are made by the people. We’ve founded our entire mentality in creating a government in which the people govern and represent themselves and their interests within their own government. After all, one of the most well-known standpoints that led to the American Revolution was that the people were adamant that England respects their anthem of “No Taxation without Representation.” What exactly did they mean though? They meant that it was unjust for Great Britain to tax the New World (American) settlers without them having proper representation (voting authorities) in regards to the choices and direction made about their new (and old) homeland. So how do we all ensure that our interests are taken into account? Voting is how we accomplish this feat within our nation.
Seems simple enough, but it has in no way been a smooth, easy ride. Some major accomplishments in pursuing an equal voice within our nation include:
1866- Civil Rights Act of 1866 grants all native-born Americans citizenship, but not the right to vote
1869- Adoption of 15th Amendment giving African American MALES the right to vote.
1896- “Grandfather Clauses” emerge preventing former slaves as well as their descendants from voting decreasing the percentage of African American voters from the mid 40%s to less than 5%!
Mid-1900s- “Jim Crow Laws” utilized tactics like steep poll taxes and literacy tests to prevent even more African American voters from voting.
1913- First Woman Suffrage Procession March in DC protesting women’s suffrage including the lack of representation as women could not vote like their male counterparts.
1920- 19th Amendment gave American WOMEN the right to vote.
1964- Adoption of 24th Amendment prevents poll taxes.
1965- Martin Luther King Jr lead thousands of non-violent protestors on a 5 day march from Selma, Alabama to the capitol in Montgomery, Alabama to demand the implementation of voting rights that would allow equal representation in the African American voting community. This is one of the notorious pleas for equality within the growth of the American democratic voting system.
1965- President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Voting Rights Act into effect. This act forbid voting barriers based upon race or ethnicity. Over 200.000 new African American voters registered before years end!
As you can see, our nation is rich trials, tribulations, and growth in our not too distant past. Many of us were born with the right to vote and the perceived equality that we live in today, but that doesn’t deduct from the significance of the right to vote and have a voice. Many Americans fought and even died for this right. It is important to continue the drive towards equality and equal representation by utilizing our right to vote. YOUR vote is YOUR voice. Speak up.