Voting Rights


Although some voting rights were provided for free black men in 1776 if they were living in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, most African Americans were not given the right to vote without hostility until 1965. The hostility took the form of poll taxes, requirements of land ownership, literacy test/voting tests, and threat of physical or economic harm.


The Native American was required to give up their tribal affiliations to gain citizenship and then the right to vote was brought closer. The mandate to give up Native tribal affiliation occurred in 1887 through the Dawes Act. In 1890 the Indian Naturalization Act granted citizenship to Native Americans in an application process similar to immigrant naturalization.


Although, citizenship for the Native American was a pre-requisite to voting it was not a direct and sure guarantee for citizenship or voting. It took the service of Native Americans during World War I to help bring about the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act. The Act granted Native Americans citizenship, but many western states refused to allow them to vote. American Indians were not officially granted the right to vote until the 1924 passage of the American Indian Citizenship Act.


It was in direct response to the Civil Rights movement, that in 1965 the “Voting Rights Act of 1965” was enacted. It banned literacy tests and provided federal enforcement of black voter registration and voting rights. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a significant piece of legislation that guaranteed the right to vote to African American citizens.


Voting is a hard-fought right so, let’s use it…


Article by CherokeeCloud

Written September 11, 2006

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