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The 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act 1965-2015

Voting-Rights-ActThe 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act 1965-2015

From Tony Hill

In 1939, The 15th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was passed. The 15th Amendment guaranteed the right of citizens 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.

On Aug. 6, 1965, The Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. The legislation aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote under the 15th Amendment of the Constitution.

The Voting Rights Act significantly widened the franchise and is considered among the most far-reaching pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history. The Voting Rights Act also prohibits voter dilution by the drawing of election districts in ways that improperly dilutes minority’s voting powers.

1966:  The Supreme Court ends the poll tax.

1970:  Renewal of the Voting Rights Act bans literacy tests for five years.

1971:  The 26th Amendment sets the minimum voting age at 18.

1972:   The Supreme Court rules lengthy residency requirements for voting unconstitutional.

1990:  The federal Motor Voter law makes it easier to vote.

2003:  Federal law streamlines registration, voting and election procedures.

African-Americans shifted from being forced to wait for the “magical” Election Day to cast their vote.  Voters in Florida seized the benefits of utilizing absentee ballots, voting by mail and the convenience of 14 day early voting. African Americans captured the opportunity to elect the Representative of choice. Freely exercising their “Right”, African American voters were free to choose who they want to represent them.

On Aug. 6, we will acknowledge the success of 14 distinguished women who are beneficiaries of this most important legislation. The free event will be held at the Downtown Public Library from 4 to 7 p.m.  We’ll celebrate the accomplishments of:

1967 – Mary L. Singleton, elected to Jacksonville City Council; 1967 – 1982 – Sally B. Mathis, elected to Jacksonville City Council; 1990 – 2002 – Gwendolyn Gibson – Duval County School Board.

; 1991 – 1994, 1998 – Margaret McQueen – Jacksonville Beach City Council; 1992           – Betty Hozendolf – Elected State Senator; 1992  – Gwendolyn Leaphart – Elected Civil Service Board; 1992 – Present – Corrine Brown – Elected United State Congress; 1995 – 2008  – Gwendolyn Chandler – City Council at Large/Group 5; 1998 – Present – Pauline Davis – Duval County Judge; 2007 – Jackie Brown – Mayoral Candidate; 2010 – 2013 – Jennifer Carroll – Lt Governor, State of Florida; 2011 – 2015        – Kimberly Daniels – City Council at Large/Group 1; 2012  – Brenda Priestly Jackson – Candidate Clerk of Court; 2015  – Tracy Davis – Candidate for Supervisor of Elections

It is important that we know our history and that we understand the successes and sacrifices that others made in order to ensure that we are free to exercise the rights that we have as citizens of The United States of America. It is also important that we share that history and the rights with generations to come. We must ensure that they understand their worth and their value of every single vote.

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