African Americans and women have always fought to vote. There’s been a long history of preventing people of color from voting.
African Americans knew that the inability to vote resulted in economic, political, and social harm to themselves, their families, and their communities.
Originally under the Constitution, only white male citizens over the age of 21 were eligible to vote. In 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment extended voting rights to men of all races.
The 19th Amendment to the Constitution gave women the right to vote in 1920, although many women, especially women of color remained unable to vote long into the 20th century because of discriminatory state voting laws.
Poll taxes, literacy tests, fraud and intimidation all turned African Americans away from the polls.
In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed into law.
It’s 2023, why do we need to vote?
Talking to people that are passionate about the right to vote, one thing was clear among them: voting is imperative to have your voice heard.
“Voting gives me a voice in electing officials that create and enforce policies that directly and indirectly affect me and others I care about,” Milwaukee voter.
“Voting is the loudest voice I have when it comes to the issues that I’m most concerned about because many died for me to have this voice. I’ll be damned if I’m not going to use it,” a voter from Cleveland.
“It’s the difference between being in chains or being in charge, the question is why are people so busy keeping other people from voting?,” a voter from Chicago.
“I feel pride that I voted, if I don’t vote then I have no business complaining about the direction of the country,” Wauwatosa voter.
If you don’t have a vote, you don’t have a voice.
There are so many issues that need our voices. Women’s reproductive rights are being attacked which harms the safety, health and freedom for women.
Women need to use their vote to choose elected officials that will be on the side of our nation, state and communities to correct the injustices whether it be gun control or safer schools, we have a voice.
There are currently politicians that are rejecting a pilot Advanced Placement African American studies course from being offered in Florida’s public high schools, restricting labor unions, opposing marijuana legalization, and not being supportive of public schools, we have a voice.
Issues connected to families locally like cutting funds for libraries and the fire departments, banning books, Medicare, the lowering of health care costs and prescription drug prices for seniors, we have a voice.
Voting is our opportunity to be heard and respected and to pass those rights to future generations. It’s a vehicle to be able to advocate for positive change in our society.