Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Elections, Voting, America, Law, Politics, United States, Criminal Justice, Office

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2021/02/02

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In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the South used various attempts to disenfranchise the African Americans. In spite of the abolition of slavery, the African Americans failed to enjoy the basic rights of citizenship. Most of the attempts to disenfranchise the African Americans were crude and included poll taxes, literacy tests, Jim Crow laws, grandfather clause and many others . The South denied the most fundamental right of citizens in a democratic country, which is the right to vote. Without the right to vote, the government can ignore and abuse the people. The African Americans residing in the South faced a similar situation post Civil War. When the Constitution granted the right to vote to the African American citizens, the Southern states passed the Jim Crow laws, which were influential in disenfranchising the African Americans. The Jim Crow laws hindered the African Americans’ struggle for political, economic and racial equality.
In other words, the laws replaced the institution of slavery with legal policies and created racial segregation in the country. The Jim Crow laws not only imposed social segregation between the African Americans and the whites, but also created barriers to the economic opportunities and voting rights of the blacks . In favor of the Jim Crow laws, the Supreme Court upheld a doctrine in the Plessy v. Ferguson case, which was the separate but equal doctrine. The struggle to overcome such segregation became a catalyst for the African Americans to seek economic and social parity in the Civil Rights Movement. The Southern states implemented several mechanisms to prevent the legal requirements of the fifteenth amendment and disenfranchise the African Americans. In this attempt, the South implemented the grandfather clause, which exempted various citizens from the literacy tests who qualified to vote prior 1867 and their direct descendants.
The grandfather clause allowed all illiterate whites to vote, while disenfranchising ignorant African Americans leading to the circumvention of the fifteenth amendment . In Guinn v. United States case, the Supreme Court used the fifteenth amendment to invalidate the discriminatory practice in voting and declared the grandfather clause unconstitutional. The white primary was another ingenious device implemented by the South, which took advantage of the one-party politics in the South and frustrated the desire of the African Americans to vote in the elections. The winner of the primary elections was equivalent to winning the general elections as only one party, the Democratic Party dominated the politics if the South . The Supreme Court declared the practice of white primary unconstitutional as it violated the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments.
The next device was the imposition of poll tax. The poll tax was a financial deterrent to the African Americans as it meant to bar the ballot to the African American voters. In 1937, the Supreme Court claimed that the poll tax did not violate any constitutional rights; however, the enactment of the twenty-fourth amendment in 1964 declared the payment of poll tax in any election unconstitutional as it meant to curtail one’s right to vote. In order to reduce the disenfranchisement of the African Americans, the Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which aimed at enforcing the rights granted by the fifteenth amendment to the African Americans . The act was a measure to provide political, social and legal authority to all the Americans and impose fines and criminal penalties on those who deprived the citizens of their civil rights.
In spite of the enforcement of the Civil Rights Act, the disenfranchisement of the African Americans continued to take place. It became apparent that the policies overlooked by the courts not only denied the rights of the African Americans, but also challenged the judicial authority. The insufficiencies of the acts passed in 1957, 1960 and 1964 and the violent marches and protests in response to the voting rights alarmed the nation and increased the political pressure for the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 . The outbreak of violence in Alabama due to black voter registration drive led to the enactment of the Voting Rights Act into law on the 6th of August, 1965. The significance of the Voting Rights Act is that it prohibited the enactment of any law to deny the voting rights of citizens on the account of color or race. The act suspended the literacy tests in various states and counties. It prohibited the enforcement of new laws or practices until the determination of the federal authorities if the rules would lead to voting discrimination.
The Voting Rights Act also assigned federal examiners to ensure voting by qualified applicants. Another significance of the Voting Rights Act is that it forbade the use of any device as a condition for voter registration in states that fall under the coverage formula section. The act sought to stop the discouragement of black registration and voting . In spite of the Voting Rights Act, the rights of minority residents remain disproportionately underrepresented in the elective offices at all levels, which include local, state as well as national levels for various reasons. The degree of electoral participation in the United States has been fluctuating over the past few years, in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, education, income and various other factors. There is a wide discrepancy in the representation of women, minorities, poorer and less-educated individuals in the elective office.
Lack of proper accommodation in terms of language, younger populations and lack of mobilization efforts on behalf of the political parties are some of the reasons for the underrepresentation of the minorities in the elective office . The growth of racial divide along the partisan lines, which includes race, ethnicity and concerns about conflict, discrimination and inequality, is another major reason. At both the local as well as national levels, party identification has become the major driving force of American politics. In terms of formulating policies, the voice of the blacks is less audible when compared to the dominant whites. Blacks lose their share of making decisions due to their smaller representation in the electorate. Most of the minorities are poor, uneducated and young, and belong to a particular religious community. Hence, the minorities do not have much influence in the elective office when compared to the whites.
The policies formulated by the government ignore the blacks than any other minority groups. Although the minorities have become victorious over the past fifty years, their victories are less significant as the political leadership of the United States is devastatingly white. The share of African Americans in the elective office has increased from 1 percent in 1965 to approximately 10 percent in 2015, while the share of Hispanics has risen to 7 percent in 2015 from 1 percent in 1965. The share of Asian Americans is not noticeable as it has only increased to 2 percent over the past few years. Even in the elective office of the Senate, the representation of the minorities is negligible . In spite of an overall representation of 40 percent of the total population of the United States, the minorities represent only 14 percent of the elective office. Thus, although the minority groups and residents were successful in achieving their fundamental rights of voting and equality, they still remain underrepresented in elective office, which is an issue of great concern.


Tannahill, Neal. THINK: American Government 2012. Pearson Education, 2012.

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WePapers. (2021, February, 02) Civil Rights Essay Examples. Retrieved June 25, 2021, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/civil-rights-essay-examples/
"Civil Rights Essay Examples." WePapers, 02 Feb. 2021, https://www.wepapers.com/samples/civil-rights-essay-examples/. Accessed 25 June 2021.
WePapers. 2021. Civil Rights Essay Examples., viewed June 25 2021, <https://www.wepapers.com/samples/civil-rights-essay-examples/>
WePapers. Civil Rights Essay Examples. [Internet]. February 2021. [Accessed June 25, 2021]. Available from: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/civil-rights-essay-examples/
"Civil Rights Essay Examples." WePapers, Feb 02, 2021. Accessed June 25, 2021. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/civil-rights-essay-examples/
WePapers. 2021. "Civil Rights Essay Examples." Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. Retrieved June 25, 2021. (https://www.wepapers.com/samples/civil-rights-essay-examples/).
"Civil Rights Essay Examples," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 02-Feb-2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/civil-rights-essay-examples/. [Accessed: 25-Jun-2021].
Civil Rights Essay Examples. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/civil-rights-essay-examples/. Published Feb 02, 2021. Accessed June 25, 2021.

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