Review of the 15th amendment. Law Term Paper Assignment (Term Paper Sample)
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1 Review of the 15th Amendment[Calvin Schermerhorn, "Civil-Rights Laws Don't Always Stop Racism," The Atlantic, May 8, 2016, xx, accessed May 13, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/05/the-memphis-massacre-of-1866-and-black-voter-suppression-today/481737/.]
The 15th amendment was part of the three amendments known as the Civil War amendments. The legislation brought three significant changes to the US constitution. Its purpose was to eliminate discrimination in voting based on race. The amendment granted male African Americans voting rights. Although ratified in 1870, the promise of this amendment was not realized until almost a century later. The southern states remained largely uninterested in allowing blacks to exercise voting rights. Mechanisms such as poll tax and literacy tests were employed to bar African Americans. It took the passage of the Voting Rights Act for the majority of blacks to be allowed to register as voters. The registration of voters is the responsibility of individual states. Each state has rules regarding registration of voters. The 15th amendment forbade the federal and state governments from discriminating voters based on skin color or previous status of servitude. By 1870, most states had ratified the amendment, binding them to the requirement of allowing blacks equal voting rights. However, the southern states remained reluctant in heeding the legislation. Blacks were systematically barred from voting. New York, in particular, attempted to revoke its ratification of the amendment in 1870.
2 The Civil Rights March on Selma, Alabama[Kelli Green, "Viola Liuzzo: Civil rights activist, courageous woman, incredible inspiration," The Corsair, April 21, 2016, xx, accessed May 13, 2016, http://ecorsair.com/viola-liuzzo-civil-rights-activist-courageous-woman-incredible-inspiration/.]
In the 1965 Alabama, black people faced major hurdles when registering as voters. In Selma, the county registrars opened the registration office for two days in a month. For each of these two days, only fifteen registrations would be processed. The strategy was put in place to block black voters from registering effectively. Selma had over 15,000 black citizens of the voting age, yet only about 350 were registered voters. Leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had unsuccessfully attempted to break these voting barriers. The requirement to pay poll tax was a popular strategy that was used to disqualify black citizens from voter registration was the poll tax. While the tax was levied equally among all persons, it strategically placed blacks at a disadvantage. The majority of the blacks could not afford to pay the tax, owing to their poverty.
Another strategy employed by election officials in Alabama was the "literacy test". Highly subjective examinations were administered to black applicants. The examinations were meant to bar as many African Americans out of the voting process as possible. Some states refused to administer the examination to blacks unless they were vouched for by an already registered voter. The requirement was difficult to attain, as very few blacks were registered voters at the time, and few whites would be willing to antagonize the society by vouching for a black person. The system by election officials to secretly decide whether an applicant had passed the test was yet another ploy to lock out black applicants. Threats of violence from members of the Ku Klux Klan were also aimed at discouraging African Americans from registering as voters. Election officials intentionally published the names of successful black applicants a way of notifying the violent group of the defiant African Americans who needed "persuasion".
3 Reconstruction Era[Janet Kendall, "Understanding the significance of Reconstruction era in SC’s history," The State, April 16, 2016, xx, accessed May 13, 2016, http://www.thestate.com/living/article72000282.html.]
The Reconstruction era marked the end of slavery and transition to freedom and citizenship for the former slaves. There were nearly four million former slaves at the time. The era ushered in an experiment on biracial democracy, with the government and institutions striving to recognize African Americans as bona fide citizens. During this era, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were enacted to guarantee the protection of the citizens' rights for every American, regardless of their race. The achievements of this era, as well as its dramatic demise, have remained a little-understood topic in American history. This is in spite of the central part that discussions of race relations between Whites and African Americans continue to assume.
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