Voting Rights Movements for African Americans

  • In this project, I focused on voting rights for African Americans. The African Americans were oppressed for several years and decades. Even after African Americans were freed from slavery, they still did not enjoy their freedom and liberty in America. They were still oppressed by discrimination and segregation. They began protesting and arranging movements in order to reach their rights. I really enjoyed how they were very determined to reach what they wanted, even though despite the hardships they faced.
  • The movements and hard efforts that the African Americans established were very inspiring to me. Even though they did not have their freedom of publicly protesting and expressing their opinion, they continued to arrange movements. Their determination was the reason why they were able to reach their voting rights and freedom. They believed in themselves and they had a strong devotion to have liberty. Their movements affected me personally by teaching me that I must have strong dedication and devotion to reach my goal. Despite the fact that the local police always tried to stop them from protesting and expressing their rights, they kept going, until change occurred. Below, we will examine how the African Americans were able to fight hard for their freedom and voting rights.

Introduction

In this video, I briefly introduced major and significant events during the voting rights movements.

Timeline

This timeline includes five important events that occurred. Eventually, the occurrence of these events were possible for achieving voting rights. I have included a court case that was essential as well.

Videos

This video discusses significant events. It is great for understanding how life was for African Americans before they gained voting rights, and what hardships they faced when it came to voting.

This is a great video discussing the dates of events in order regarding the voting rights for African Americans. This video is very special because it discusses the voting rights aspects that are still going on in United States until this day in the South.

Important Events and leaders

  1. It all started with the unfair treatments and oppressions that the African Americans had to face. For lots of years, they have been treated as property. Now, that they have gained their freedom, they did not enjoy full rights of an American citizen. One essential part in their life was missing: they could not vote. Freedom summer was the beginning of it all. This summer was very essential for African Americans voting rights movements. In this summer, there were lots of efforts done in order for African Americans to gain their voting rights. In the summer of 1964, The Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) along with CORE and SNCC, exerted a huge amount of effort in order to register black voters. These organizations organized a voter registration drive, which later became known as the Mississippi Summer project. This movement mainly focused on African American rights in the Southern area of the United States. The Mississippi project was able to create and establish fifty Freedom Schools. The goal of these schools was to carry on community organization. These schools were able to register about twelve hundred African Americans. Most people involved in this movements were of course African Americans, but also, there were a majority of Whites helping. There were lots of violence included during this summer. Lots of residents and volunteers wee met by extraordinary violence. Three college students from the SNCC organization who were helping out got murdered because of their activity in this movement!The main leaders of Freedom summer were the COFO along with another organizations known as SNCC and CORE. The SNCC provided huge financial funding for this project. The main director for the Mississippi Summer Project was Robert Moses of SNCC. His assistant director was Dennis of CORE. Robert Mosses is considered to be the most important leader in this movement. He was the main person who led and proposed the idea of Freedom Summer.

2. The second major events that was essential towards African Americans to gain their freedom occurred in Selma, Alabama march. This march was organized by African Americans to demand their right to vote. They were planning on marching from Alabama to Montgomery. However, things did not go as planned because violence occurred.  They were blocked in their way to Montgomery by police blockade on Pettus Bridge. Violence erupted by the police when they began to attack the peaceful protesters. Lots of African Americans were injured and they rushed to the hospital. The police used tear gases,whips, and clubs against them. This incident proved that there was not much freedom for Africans Americans even though they were not slaves anymore. They could not vote or express their opinion publicly. The police attacked them because they simply were African Americans. The police asked them to return and go back, but they refused. That was the start of the violence.

This picutre shows how violently the police attacked the peacefull and unarmed African Ameircans protesters in the selma, Alabama march.

3. In April of 1963, another essential event occurred. There were  activists, like Coldia Lidell and Bernard Lafayett, who are associated with the SNCC organization. Their work began in the early 1960's. They worked really hard to get African American to be able to register to vote. They did lots of effort just to encourage them to register to vote, even if they were rejected. They began their work in Selma, Alabama. The Selma,Alabama march that occurred in 1965 would not have been possible without the effort of these leaders and the SNCC organization. According to Prathia Hall, a SNCC field secretary who came to Selma in the fall of 1963, explained, “The 1965 Selma Movement could never have happened if SNCC hadn't been there opening up Selma in 1962 and 1963."

4. In the late 1964, the activist in Selma, Alabama invited Martin Luther King to join and support them. He was a very important and influential leader. When the 1965 voting right act was passed, he was president along with the president. His support was essential to this movement in order to spread and force the government to take a stand.

The most Essential Law passed

On August 6,1965, the Voting Rights Bill was signed into law by the US Senate. The bill was passed on May 26,1965, after long month of debating, The US House of Representative passed the bill on July 9 by a vote of 333-85. The bill also passed in the Senate on May 26, 1965 by a 77-19 vote. Finally, it was the President's time to decide. President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law On August 6 along with Martin Luther Kin Jr. Other known civil rights leaders were present at the ceremony. This act banned the use of literacy tests and it supported for federal oversight of voter registration in ares were less than 50 percent of nonwhite population had not registered to vote. This bill also allowed US attorney generals to investigate these poll taxes in stated and local elections. This act was very important for the African Americans. After long years of suffrage and oppression, they finally had the right to express their vote. This Bill made them to be able to participate in elections for their country's future. Their voices were finally heard.

A picture of the official 1965 Voting Right act.

The 24th Amendment Passed

Previously there was a poll tax on voting. In order to vote, you had to have money! This made it extremely difficult, especially for poor African Americans to vote. The 24th Amendment abolished the poll tax, allowing more flexibility for possible African American votes. Before the creation of the 24th Amendment, eleven southern states adopted the poll tax in order to make it difficult for poor African Americans to vote. The supreme court declared that poll taxes are illegal only in federal elections. However, later, the Supreme Court declared that pool taxes were unconstitutional in state elections. This is because it violated the 14th amendment, which states that there should be equal protection of the laws to be guaranteed. The creation of the 24th Amendment was very essential for poor African Americans. However, this amendment was also very essential for all African Americans later on in history, this is because it led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections

This was a case presented by Anne E. Harper, a resident of Virginia, against the state's poll tax by claiming that it was unconstitutional. The case went to the Supreme Court. The court ruled in the favor of Harper. It was a 6-3 vote. The Court stated that having poll taxes violated the Equal Protection Clause. They also concluded that having to pay taxes to vote is not adequate for voting qualifications. This was very important because it was a step forward for African Americans to have the freedom to vote.

President Johnson's speech

At the time, Lyndon B. Johnson was the president. As an action of the horrible incident that had occurred. Johnson had to face the public and give a speech. On March 15,1965, Lyndon B. Johnson gave a speech regarding the horrible incident of Selma, Alabama. His speech was very supportive of the African Americans and explainable. In his speech, Johnson talked and publicly showed the ways in which election officials would deny and give hard times for African Americans to vote. He stated that the officials would convince the African Americans who tried to vote with false information. Majority of the time the officials would convince the African Americans that they are in the wrong polling place, or that they have the wrong time and place for the elections. The officials would also try to stop them form voting by telling them that they have incorrectly filled out an application, due to their insufficient literacy skills. The president discussed all of these aspects in his speech openly to the public. In his speech, the president also clearly stated that the Southern officials would force the Blacks to recite the whole constitution, or explain a complex part included in the constitution. This was very unfair treatment, most of the time, since Blacks were not well educated, they would not be able to recite the constitution, and they were not allowed to vote.

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