I voted by mail for the first time in the April 2020 Primary due to COVID19. Prior to that, I’ve always taken great pride to vote in person. To me, it was the least I could do to honor the legacy of the fight for African Americans to have the right to vote. So “showing up” was important to me.
The 13th Amendment was passed in 1865 to abolish slavery. Frederick Douglass said “Slavery is not abolished until the Black man has the ballot.”
While the 15th Amendment barred voting rights discrimination on the basis of race, states still found ways to circumvent the Constitution and prevent African Americans from voting. Poll taxes, literacy tests, fraud and intimidation all turned African Americans away from the polls.
A full fifty years after the 15th Amendment passed, black Americans still found it difficult to vote, especially in the South for decades following Reconstruction. The fight for African Americans' right to vote raged on well into the 20th century. Many brave and impassioned Americans protested, marched, were arrested and even died working toward voting equality.
In 1963 and 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought hundreds of African American people to the courthouse in Selma, Alabama to register. When they were turned away, Dr. King organized and led protests that finally turned the tide of American political opinion. In 1964 the 24th Amendment prohibited the use of poll taxes.
The 1965 Voting Rights Act created a significant change in the status of African Americans throughout the South. The Voting Rights Act prohibited the states from using literacy tests and other voter suppression methods to exclude African Americans from voting. Prior to this, only an estimated twenty-three percent of voting-age African American were registered nationally, but by 1969 the number had jumped to sixty-one percent.
Now with COVID19, I am “showing up” by voting by mail again in November. I encourage you to do the same. It’s easy:
Go to Hamilton County Board of Elections website: https://votehamiltoncountyohio.gov/contact-us/
- Click: Voting information, then Vote by mail, scroll down to Vote-by-Mail Application for November 3, 2020 General Election
- Print the application; fill it out and mail it to the BOE (requires postage)
- When your ballot arrives, see sample: https://votehamiltoncountyohio.gov/sample-ballot/
- Complete it, be sure to sign it and mail it back or drop it off at the BOE. (If mailing, postage required).
That’s it! This is how we honor the legacy this year!