african american vote

Racist policies often kept African-American women out of the suffragist movement. The headquarters of Colored Women Voters, located in Georgia, was one of many early 20th-century organizations that fought for African-American suffrage.

Source: CUNY

On John Lewis, Civil Rights Hero

“I fought too long & too hard against discrimination based on race & color, not to fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation,” tweeted civil rights icon John Lewis on July 23, 2015.

Fifty-five years ago, on May 14, 1961, Lewis rode with the Freedom Riders in a bus pelted by rocks and bricks, as axes smashed through windshields, a firebomb lobbed through the shattered glass. State troopers fired warning shots – but whom they warned was not the violent mob.

The bus’s passengers were black and white Americans riding together, testing the recent Supreme Court ruling that said it would be illegal to segregate public transportation passengers based on their race. 

John Lewis was the first Freedom Rider to be assaulted. And yet, a battered face and broken ribs did not prevent him from continuing his ride. “We were determined not to let any act of violence keep us from our goal,” Lewis has said of the experience. “We knew our lives could be threatened, but we had made up our minds not to turn back.”

As the fight for civil rights continued over the ensuing years, Lewis kept to his conviction that there was no turning back. Three years following the Freedom Riders’ journeys aboard greyhounds, Lewis marched in Selma, Mississippi, in a demonstration of their urgent insistence on African Americans’ right to vote amidst widespread voter suppression. On a day that became known as Bloody Sunday, the peaceful protesters were beaten by state troopers who met them at the end of Edmond Pettus Bridge.

[from John Lewis’ testimony]

After a lifetime of fighting for civil rights, John Lewis has never stooped to rest. As a champion of LGBTQ rights, Lewis gave an impassioned speech in a 1996 debate on the Defense of Marriage Act, where he lashed out against any who would deny LGBTQ citizens’ their right to marriage.

“I will not turn my back on another American,” he said. “I will not oppress my fellow human being. I fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

[watch the full speech here]

Lewis has been elected to Congress fourteen times, a few times running unopposed, beloved for his bravery and dedication to fighting for the rights of his constituents and fellow Americans at large. He has recently received media attention for the criticism laid down on him by President Donald Trump, who said of the civil rights hero, “All talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!”

With the sun high on the first day of February, a new month awaits dedicated to remembering the contributions of Black Americans throughout our history. They are the trailblazers who have fought tirelessly for justice and equality, and who today continue to fight for their community, in addition to others marginalized in similar manners, allies united in their advocation.

SCAM: You cannot vote by text

Republicans have a new scam going.  They have created memes, messages, etc. encouraging Hillary Clinton supporters to vote early by text.  Avoid long lines it says..well this is a SCAM.  You cannot vote by text.  Republicans are just trying to disenfranchise voters.  And oh look, they are targeting African American voters.  Republicans never stop trying to prevent black people from voting.

Septima Poinsette Clark by Ciana Pullen

Born on May 3, 1898, in Charleston, South Carolina, Septima Poinsette Clark branched out into social action with the NAACP while working as a teacher. As part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, she set up citizenship schools that helped many African Americans register to vote. Clark was 89 when she died on December 15, 1987, on South Carolina’s Johns Island.

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Selma 50 years later.

“Because of what they did, the doors of opportunity swung open not just for African-Americans, but for every American,” President Barack Obama said, standing in front of the Edmund Pettus Bridge where the violence took place.

Fire Department Never Came

Violence prevented many African Americans from voting 95 years after the 15th Amendment granted them the right to vote in 1870. 

 The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) submitted this photo to Congress during consideration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. CORE noted this voting education site burned to the ground because “the fire department never came.” 

 The Voting Rights Act was officially signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 6, 1965. It banned literacy tests and vastly increased the number of minority voters and voters in general.

Photograph of the ruins of the Mt. Pleasant Society Hall in Gluckstadt, Mississippi, destroyed by fire on August 11, 1963

Learn more about the “Amending America” exhibit

America Was NEVER Great

Dear Donald Trump, 

Was American great when it stole this land from the Natives?

Was America great when it tried enslaving them, killing them with diseases and murder?

Was America great when it took people from Africa and enslaved them?

Was America great when it regularly beat, lynched, and raped its slaves?

Was America great when it let the KKK come into power?

Was America great when it massacred droves of Natives and forced them off of their own land during the “Manifest Destiny?”

Was America great when half of its people decided that it wanted to secede from the union to keep slavery?

Was America great when it denied women and African Americans the right to vote?

Was America great when it abused the Chinese migrants who built the railroad system?

Was America great when its overestimation of its wealth led to the Great Depression?

Was America great when it discriminated against Jews after they came here post WWII?

Was America great when it committed the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings that killed millions of innocent civilians?

Was America great when it forced Japanese American citizens into internment camps?

Was America great when it overthrew a democratically elected leader in Guatemala, installed a dictator and murdered Mayan people all to take their bananas?

Was America great when it let the religious right dictate the lives of people during the 50′s and discriminate against gays?

Was America great during Jim Crow?

Was America great during the Red Scare?

Was America great when it invaded Vietnam in a pointless war?

Was America great when it ignored the AIDS epidemic? (Thanks for your support, Reagan administration)

Was America great when it passed legislation to increase the imprisonment of African Americans?

Was America great when it let 9/11 happen and started the so-called “War against Terror” (An effort to fuel the military industrial complex)?

Was America great when it began a drone strike campaign that regularly targets innocent people? (Abdulrahman Al-awlaki) 

Was America great when its police started killing unarmed African Americans and getting away with it?

Are we great now that we’ve allowed North Carolina to pass the HB2 bill and discriminate against transgender women?

When was America ever great? America calls itself “the land of the free” yet it discriminates against people on the basis of skin color, religion, sexual orientation even when our laws say that it’s illegal. We have had a long history of genocide, slavery and intolerance but I’m pretty sure you think that our history as a country is great because you’re straight, white, rich and you’re a bigot. America was never great. 

Sincerely,

Pissed off American and Bernie Sanders Supporter

Paying to Vote

Augustus Johnson argued in his telegram to Congress that the poll tax—a fee required to vote—was intended to prevent African Americans from voting rather than to collect revenue. The 24th Amendment prohibiting poll taxes for Federal elections was ratified in 1964. Two years later, the Supreme Court ruled that state poll taxes were also unconstitutional. Here’s a 1962 telegram in favor of abolishing the poll tax from Augustus C. Johnson.

Telegram from Augustus C. Johnson in favor of abolition of the poll tax

Learn more about the “Amending America” exhibit           

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Raleigh, North Carolina: At least 80,000 people join in the massive Moral March against racism, for jobs, voting rights and social justice, February 8, 2014.

Photos by Jason Bowers, Theo Luebke and Nancy Brown

While the children of our liberal contemporaries attend expensive private universities, how many black men are getting pulled into the prison system because of stop and frisk searches in these supposedly liberal cities? How many so called white liberals have really fought for those civil rights violations to be ended? My own city has a stop and frisk policy in place (even after promises of stopping it), but is also a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants. It’s ironic that the liberal elites proudly proclaim the inhumanity of deportation which could break up the families of these immigrants, but they are more than happy to justify the need to send black men and women to prison for minor infractions, thus separating the families of American citizens. Where is the outrage for our families? Oh yeah, you can take the African-American vote for granted, so you don’t need to do more than pay lip service to our concerns.

USA. Mississippi. Hernando. Summer of 1966. Civil rights activist James Meredith grimaces in pain as he pulls himself across Highway 51 after being shot. Meredith was leading the March Against Fear to encourage African Americans to vote when he was shot. He completed the march from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi, after his wounds were treated. 

This picture won the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in 1967.

Photograph: Jack Thornell

President Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks at the signing of the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 1965
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits discrimination in voting. It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the height of the American Civil Rights Movement, and Congress later amended the Act five times to expand its protections. Designed to enforce the voting rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Act allowed for a mass enfranchisement of racial minorities throughout the country, especially in the South. It is widely considered one of the most effective pieces of civil rights legislation ever enacted in the United States.