Five decades since people of color were given the right to vote

by Topacio Marrero | August 15, 2018 7:00 am

Photo by Warren K. Leffler. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, reproduction number: LC-DIG-ds-05267 (digital file from original). CC BY-NC 2.0

It’s almost scary to think, but it’s only been 5 decades since people of color in America were effectively given the right to vote. This was accomplished because of how hard many civil rights activists fought to get it.

When we unite the vote in the upcoming elections, we honor those who struggled, fought and died to ensure all people have the right to vote. When we unite the vote, we understand that we are creating change and giving a voice to those who come after us as well.

Ahead of this critical election, I decided to interview members of my community on the importance of voting. These interviews led me to discover a common thread that united them all: These voters spoke on how vital it was for people of color to vote because of how hard prior generations fought for their right to be heard in times where they were told to be silent:

Jermaine Mitchell: “It’s important to vote because look at the history. There was a time we couldn’t vote.”

Mark Swane: “Voting matters because it changes our community. It gives our opinion a voice to be heard…Also to have the knowledge to change the things that we couldn’t change back in the day.”

Odalis Bliss:  “Cuando tú votas, tú das tu opinion por un cambio…el voto es una responsabilidad que tenemos todos los ciudadanos.”

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