It took the eventual passage of three constitutional amendments, the 14th, 15th and 24th, before all Black Americans could freely vote in the U.S.
African Americans weren’t given the right to vote in the U.S. until 1869, but to this day, Black voters still fight against discriminatory practices that hinder their civic right. In 2011, a record number of voting restrictions that disproportionately affected African Americans were introduced in state legislatures nationwide, including photo ID requirements, cuts to early voting and restrictions to voter registration.
Earlier generations fought and died for this right. If nothing else, you should exercise your right to vote. According to United States census data, over 66 percent of registered Black voters went to the polls for the November 2012 election. That’s two percent higher than registered White voters, and nearly six percent higher than U.S. voters overall.
African Americans, along with unmarried women, youth voters and other voters of color also make up a rising population of eligible voters, according to a 2013 Voter Participation Center report. Together, this group makes up more than half the eligible U.S. voting population, and yet Black voters still don’t vote in proportion to that population, the report said.
Blacks are an important voting bloc. After tracking voting patterns in presidential elections from 1936 to 1960, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found Blacks voted Democratic between 60 to 80 percent. But since the 1964 election when Lyndon Johnson got 94 percent of the Black vote, the Democratic Party has received no less than 82 percent of the Black vote.
In 2012, 76 percent of Blacks called themselves Democrats, 16 percent Republican and 8 percent other or independent. Obama got over 90 percent of the Black vote in his reelection bid.
Your vote is your voice as an American citizen. It's your opportunity to be heard, to hold elected officials accountable for their decisions and to have a say in important issues that affect your community. On Election Day, every vote matters.