It’s fitting that an election year marks two significant voting anniversaries.
March 30 will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment, which prohibits the federal government and each state from denying the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color or previous condition of servitude.”
This was a milestone event for black men throughout America, whose voting rights were finally established five years after the end of the Civil War.
Women were granted the right to vote in 1920.
However, despite being ratified, there still was some resistance to the 15th Amendment.
Southern states rebelled by instituting discriminatory practices such as poll taxes and literacy tests against blacks who wanted to vote.
When those didn’t work, violence and intimidation tactics were used to get black people away from the polls.
It took some time, but 55 years ago, another significant law was passed to aid in the effort of getting blacks to vote.
In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, aimed at overcoming the legal barriers at state and local levels that hindered black people from exercising their right to vote established under the 15th Amendment.
The act banned literacy tests and prohibited any state and local government from imposing any voting law that resulted in discrimination.
The anniversaries of those two laws might come at a good time for the 2020 election to possibly reverse a bad trend from 2016 among black voters.
In the 2016 presidential election, the black voter turnout rate dropped for the first time in 20 years, falling to 59.6% after reaching a record 66.6% in 2012, according to Pew Research.