On this day in history, Feb. 3, 1870, the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified — granting African American men the right to vote.
The amendment declared that the “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.”
As the U.S. National Archives notes, “Set free by the 13th Amendment [and] with citizenship guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, Black males were given the vote by the 15th Amendment.”
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Attorney Ron Coleman, partner at the Dhillon Law Group in New York, told Fox News Digital about the amendment’s ratification, “By guaranteeing the vote to former slaves and prohibiting racial discrimination in elections, the 15th Amendment was a major step toward fulfilling America’s destiny to be what Lincoln called ‘the last best hope of Earth.’”
Added Coleman, “Despite everything, America is still that.”
The 15th Amendment guaranteed that the right to vote in America could not be denied to anyone based on race.
As the Library of Congress notes, however, about the ratification, “the promise of the 15th Amendment would not be fully realized for almost a century.”
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It adds, “Through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests and other means, southern states were able to effectively disenfranchise African Americans.”
It further says that “it would take the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the majority of African Americans in the South were registered to vote.”
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is considered one of the most significant laws in the nation’s history.
“Prompted by reports of continuing discriminatory voting practices in many southern states,” the National Archives says, “President Lyndon B. Johnson, himself a southerner, urged Congress on March 15, 1965, to pass legislation [that] ‘will make it impossible to thwart the 15th Amendment.’”
He also reminded Congress that “we cannot have government for all the people until we first make certain it is government of and by all the people.”
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