Voter Suppression from the Civil Rights Movement to the 21st Century
History of voter suppression
In 1865, President Lincoln stated that freed slaves that are intelligent or served as soldiers should be allowed to vote. Although Lincoln felt this way many white people had begged to differ. Throughout history, there have always been obstacles that African Americans faced while trying to vote. Since the civil rights movement to the age of trump, the obstacles they faced were literacy tests, poll taxes, inaccessibility to information, lack of protection, intimidation, and physical violence and death. Eighty-nine years from President Lincoln’s stance on blacks being able to vote “Governor J.P Coleman stated flatly that Negroes weren’t fit to vote” (Hampton and Fayers p 28). During the civil rights movement, it was hard for blacks to vote. Many black people did not vote because of the fear of being killed or losing their jobs. During this time if you were black and your employer was white and did not want you to vote they would fire you. As unlawful as it is now this wasn’t the case back then. There were white men dressed as armed police officers patrolling areas that black people were expected to vote. This caused many black people to be frightened to vote. Another tactic was the discriminatory literacy test that consists of silly questions such as guessing the number of jelly beans in a candy jar. Or test that was too hard that no one could even pass. The worst tactic was death, Ku Klux Klan members murdered blacks that attempted to vote.
A Change Is Gonna Come
Tired of the discrimination against black people Martin Luther King Jr. among others created the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) a civil rights organization designed to pressure Congress to pass the right to vote for African Americans. SCLC formed the Selma Voting Rights Movement and the march to Montgomery, a peaceful protest which was created to help blacks get the opportunity to vote. Many African Americans were arrested, beaten and died during those marches. But this did not stop many people from continuing the fight for equal rights. There became increase involvement within different states, communities and other organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). News coverage showed the world the violence that took place during the nonviolent protest. It was as if other races were starting to become aware of the discrimination black people faced on a regular basis. Although Democrats at the time were against President Lyndon Johnson stance on regulating voting rights for black people he eventually signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 which protected African Americans when it came to voting.
Many people believe that if it wasn’t for Martin Luther King Jr along with many other leaders during the civil rights movement the world would be different. If it wasn’t for these leaders black people wouldn’t be able to have the opportunities that they have now. In particular the right to vote. The democratic party did not always agree with African Americans being able to vote and it showed during the civil rights movement. Several candidates in the democratic party switched to the Republican party because of that belief. However, after the civil rights movement, the Democrats started to welcome people of color. In Atlanta magazine’s article it states that “Democrats have long wanted to register more people of color in their quest to flip the state from red to blue, and, in recent years, no one’s done more to lead that charge than Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams.”
“Stacey Abrams is the first black female major-party gubernatorial nominee in the United States history.” In her political career of 2007-2017 she has represented the House District 89, she served as a minority leader who focused on helping college students with their loans and scholarships, she worked on public transportation funding packages as well as the criminal justice reform that would potentially reduce prison cost. Stacey Abrams biggest accomplishment was preventing the legislation to raise taxes for the poor and middle class. Similar to King’s goals Abrams wanted fairness when it came to voting and she created The New Georgia Project, an organization which helped push people to the polls. The project made voting accessible to people. Through the use of technology Abrams created an app called Unlock, The Box was voting became reachable to individuals. In addition, she created two other organizations called the Georgia Youth Agenda and Loose The Chains. The Georgia Youth Agenda provided information about voting to ages eighteen to twenty-five-year-old. Loose The Chains is a lot similar to the SNCC partnered with churches to provide informational sessions at the church and provided transportation to the voting polls. There have been obstacles in the way for Stacey Abrams race to a governor.
Voter Suppression in the 21st Century
Although there is no tear gas being thrown or white men in hoods preventing African Americans to vote it does not mean that voter suppression is not occurring in the 21st century. Stacey Abrams is among others that ordered a recount on voting ballots. There has been speculation that Georgia is still suppressing votes. There was a great amount of voters applications that were suspended due to them missing their surname. There were complainants made by black voters in regards to voting machines not working and was held by Brian Kemp’s office due to a person’s identity card information not matching their social security information. It would be very interesting to see how the dynamics will play out once the Democrats take over the house in January. Will voters suppression in Georgia end once the Democrats take over or will it stay the same? Or does it even matter what party roles the House? Voter suppression has always been around and history has a funny way of recurring issues such as this one.
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