Today marks the 144th anniversary of 15th amendment.

The passage of the 15th amendment, at least on paper, guaranteed the right to vote for all US male citizens. Today marks the 144th anniversary of its passage. The language of the amendment read “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.” And shortly thereafter there were a few black candidates elected throughout the south to different positions in the states.

However with the end of reconstruction by the Hayes-Tilden Compromise of 1877, there was a resurgence of efforts by different groups in the south to enact legislation that particularly targeted African Americans’ right to vote. The different state legislatures passed laws to limit the black vote, including poll taxes, literacy tests, vouchers of “good character,” and disqualification for “crimes of moral turpitude.” Other laws and practices, such as the “white primary,” attempted to evade the 15th Amendment by allowing “private” political parties to conduct elections and establish qualifications for their members.

It wouldn’t be until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson that voting laws would not only be once again outlawed, but also monitored. Key portions of the law made it so that the federal government would be able to act and ultimately deny or approve any new legislation pertaining to voting in states that historically Congress believed the potential for discrimination to be the greatest. However as of last June this has changed, a split decision by the Supreme Court that struck down provisions of the Voting Rights Act that allowed for federal review and approval before the passing of laws pertaining to voting. As an immediate result the New York Times reported, “Texas announced shortly after the decision that a voter identification law that had been blocked would go into effect immediately, and that redistricting maps there would no longer need federal approval.”

Where will this leave us in the future?bhm15thamendmentcelebration.jpg