Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson released the following statement on anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment:
On February 3, 1870, the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. The 15th amendment banned race-based voting qualifications, and granted African American men the right to vote. Although ratified, the promise embodied in the 15th Amendment would not be fulfilled for almost a century. African American men would be disenfranchised by the use of poll taxes, literacy tests, or threats of violence. Not until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were the majority of African Americans in the South registered to vote.
"Yesterday, we remembered a landmark day in history -- the ratification of the 15th Amendment to our constitution in 1870. While this was a turning point in the fight to secure voting rights for African Americans, there were still significant barriers in place to bar them from the polling place," said Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. "It is important that we remember this milestone in the long and arduous road to guaranteeing the right to vote for all Americans." Congresswoman Johnson continued, "The right to vote is a fundamental principle of our democracy, and we must remain vigilant against any attempts to limit access to the polls."
Later this month, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, which tests the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, those states and localities that have a history of discriminatory practices must submit any proposed changes in election laws to the Justice Department and show that the laws are not discriminatory before they can go into effect. Under current law, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act remains in effect until 2031.