Voting Rights For Blacks | sameerbedar07

Voting Rights For Blacks

The years between 1863 and 1877 saw tremendous gains for Black Americans, including the ratification of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. But the period was also turbulent — shaped by political violence aimed at reestablishing White authority. According to Columbia University history professor Eric Foner, the Reconstruction era began more than a year before the end of the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln, the country’s first Republican president, “announced a plan to establish governments in the South loyal to the Union.” These governments backed legislation guaranteeing Black Americans’ rights and were vehemently opposed by the counter-revolutionary “Redemption” movement that swept the South. The second of the three Reconstruction amendments, the 14th Amendment extended citizenship to all persons “born or naturalized in the United States” and also secured all citizens “equal protection under the laws.”

Overview of Voting Rights

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is “generally considered the most successful piece of civil rights legislation ever adopted by the United States Congress.”* Congress adopted this act in response to the ongoing obstruction African Americans faced in exercising their right to vote. As a result, African Americans were overwhelmingly disenfranchised in many Southern states. The act’s adoption followed nearly a century of systematic resistance by certain states to the Fifteenth Amendment guarantee of the right to vote regardless of race or color. While the Voting Rights Act was adopted in response to the African American struggle, other racial groups also fought for enfranchisement. Hispanics, Asian Americans, and American Indians faced the same methods states used to exempt African American voters from the ballot box. Therefore, this study also describes voter discrimination issues faced by Hispanics, Asian Americans, and American Indians.

Asian American Voting Rights, 1878-1975

throughout the history of the United States, Asian immigrants have been subjected to discriminatory laws that restricted immigration from Asia, rendered Asians ineligible for citizenship, and made it illegal for them to own land or any other real estate. The single greatest barrier to Asian American political participation was the racial requirement that only “free whites” could become naturalized citizens and therefore voting members of the polity. After the Civil War and the enactment of the Fourteenth Amendment, Congress amended the Nationality Act of 1790 to allow “aliens of African nativity and persons of African ancestry” to become citizens. However, it rejected attempts to make Chinese immigrants eligible for citizenship and retained the racial bar against naturalizing non-white immigrants. The bar against naturalizing Chinese immigrants was upheld in the 1878 federal case In re Ah Yup. Congress went a step further in enacting the Cable Act in 1922, which stipulated that “any woman citizen who marries an alien ineligible to citizenship shall cease to be a citizen of the United States.” Since citizenship derived in part from the status of the husband, the government could revoke the citizenship of any citizen woman who married a person ineligible for citizenship, such as Asian immigrants.

The legacy of discriminatory policies and the pervasive idea of Asian Americans as foreigners are still strongly felt today, resulting in distressingly low Asian American political participation. In New York, which boasts the nation's second largest Asian American population at more than 800,000, there has never been an Asian American elected to city-wide, state-wide or national office until John Liu's election to the City Council in 2001. The stereotype of Asian Americans as a model minority has obscured the continuing barriers that prevent Asian Americans from participating effectively as candidates or as voters.


Voting is not, just our right but our duty as well, this saying goes a long way as it tells us clearly we have responsibilities as citizens of the country. But we should not discriminate in voting on the basis of the color of the skin, here we all are equal. Number of reforms at national or international level had been enacted in order to give every individual an egalitarian outlook


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