Black people died so you could.
“… if we know enough to be hung, we know enough to vote. If the Negro knows enough to pay taxes to support the government, he knows enough to vote. ... If he knows enough to shoulder a musket and fight for the flag for the government, he knows enough to vote." - Frederick Douglas, 1865 to the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society.
The 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870, granting Black men the right to vote. Their voices were silenced by racist poll taxes, literacy tests, and groups like the Ku Klux Klan that terrorized and took their lives if they dared to cast a ballot.
On July 17, 1946, just a year after my father was born, Maceo Snipes, a World War II veteran, was the first Black person to vote in the United States of America. The Ku Klux Klan arrived at his home on July 18 and shot him in the back. He walked miles to the hospital, where he waited six hours in the waiting room to be seen and was denied a blood transfusion because the hospital did not have any “black blood.” He died two days later.
Nearly 20 years after Snipes’ murder on March 7, 1965, there were the brutal attacks of “Bloody Sunday” — when Black men and women, joined by allies of all races and backgrounds, marched for voting protections and were attacked with tear gas, beaten with billy clubs, and trampled by police on horseback during a peaceful march that started in Selma, Alabama. The attack left 17 marchers hospitalized and 50 treated for lesser injuries.
Black people died for my right to vote.
- Jennifer J. Gaskin “Jennifer The Author”
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