You may have seen this meme being shared on Facebook over the past few days, and perhaps you’ve wondered if the meme is accurate.
Here’s what history has to say on the accuracy of that meme.
Were most African-Americans prevented from voting until 1965?
The 15th Amendment to the Constitution granted African-American men the right to vote by declaring 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.”
This is because the 14th Amendment had granted African-Americans citizenship, but had not granted them the right to vote. The 15th Amendment addressed that issue. This amendment also prevented federal and state governments from denying the right to vote to citizens based on race.
The final vote in the Senate was 39 to 13, with 14 not voting. The Senate passed the amendment with a vote of 39 Republican votes of “Yea.” Eight Democrat and five Republican voted”Nay” and 13 Republican and 1 Democrat chose not to vote.
Democrats in the south began insisting black voters pass literacy tests, mandated the pay-a-tax to cast ballots, and required African-American voters to secure white persons to vouch for them in the white-only Democrat primaries in Southern states. Voter intimidation and violence against African-Americans were two well-known tactics used by Democrats during elections.
Were African-American women prevented from voting until 1965?
The 19th Amendment in 1920 granted non-Native American and non-Asian women the right to vote. This Amendment included African-American women as well as Caucasian women. A woman’s right to vote was something the suffragette movement had fought for since 1848.
Were Native Americans prevented from voting until 1957?
The Snyder Act of 1924 admitted Native Americans born in the U.S. to full U.S. citizenship. Though the Fifteenth Amendment, passed in 1870, granted all U.S. citizens the right to vote regardless of race, it wasn’t until the Snyder Act that Native Americans could enjoy the rights granted by the amendment.
Except that fees and competency tests popped up which prevent many Native Americans from voting, and this continued for decades.
Were Asian-Americans prevented from voting until 1952?
Chinese immigrants were given the right to citizenship and the right to vote by the Magnuson Act in 1943. All other Asian-Americans secured the right to citizenship and the right to vote in 1952 through the McCarran-Walter Act.
That being said, Asian-Americans have the worst voter turnout rates compared to other groups of Americans according to data collected. It is believed it is due to the fact that 75% of Asian-Americans are foreign-born, with 35% of Asian-Americans unable to demonstrate even limited English proficiency.
It took the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for protections and accommodations to be put in place that allowed U.S. citizens of limited English to vote with assistance from translators and ballots in multiple languages. Just a year earlier, Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration ensured that literacy tests and poll taxes were no longer allowed in any state during any election.
Were any other important voting changes enacted since 1965?
In 1971, the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 due to the Vietnam War. If you were old enough to go to war, you were old enough to vote.
And finally, in 2000, a federal court ruled that citizens of U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico and Guam cannot vote in federal elections.
While much of the meme seems rooted in the unfairness of literacy tests and poll taxes, the reality is that the laws existed that allowed for each cultural group to vote earlier than the meme claims, with the exception of the 1920 claim for Caucasian women.
With the U.S. midterm election coming up on Tuesday, November 6, take a moment to find out if the memes you are buying into are accurate or purposely misrepresent historical facts. Then get out there and vote (if you haven’t already) provided you a registered voter eligible to cast a ballot in the U.S. midterm election.