The Right to Vote

This photo shows African-Americans voting for the first time in Charleston, South Carolina.

One type of freedom discussed in Chapter 15 of Eric Foner’s book GIVE ME LIBERTY was the right of African American’s to vote in the United States. The right to vote has always been one of the basic civil liberties that all American citizens were given. America is a democracy in which the people elect their leaders who will represent them in Congress, State legislatures and other governmental positions. Furthermore, the right to vote enabled citizens to help select the next President of the United States. This all important right is deeply sewed into the basic principle of our country. That is that we as a group of citizens, do not have a king or queen, we have officials whom we elect. We elect them on the basis of whether or not we agree with their ideals and values and if we do not agree, we choose someone else who we can identify with. During Reconstruction African-Americans wanted to see changes in their standard of living. However, these changes could not be made unless they had African-Americans in state legislatures who would campaign for their rights. Along with the fact that as citizens of the USA it would be immoral to deny them the basic right that every other inhabitant of the land did.

This freedom was realized in the short term as African-Americans understood the importance of voting. Without a vote or say in who got elected what other change could be brought about. It would take politics to help change their situations and before the 15th Amendment it was a political system in which they had no say.

This freedom has also been realized in the long run. African-Americans make up a good chunk of voters in the polls and they helped a good deal to elect the first nonwhite president of the USA, President Barack Obama. The right to vote was a tool which enabled African-Americans to choose presidents that offered them a helping hand (though not all did).

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