The right to vote is one that is considered fundamental in the Unites States and was not granted to African Americans until the Voting Rights Act in 1965. This outlawed many of the practises that were used to keep black people from exercising their right to vote. This Voting Rights Act was amended and extended in 1970, 1975 and 1982. The Voting Rights Act has come up for ratification again more recently in 2009. The Supreme Court extended the act but gave indications that it may be struck down in the near future as it is something that is no longer seemed necessary. This shows that the Court now believes that there should be no distinction made between the voting rights of black and white United States citizens.
There have been a number of other points of controversy of voting rights throughout United States history. The right has been challenged regarding women, immigrants and ex-offenders. Women have always been politically active in the United States and were a significant force behind the abolitionist movement. The right for women to vote in the US was first granted by Colorado in 1893 but the act was not extended for the whole country until 1920 with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Immigrants who have become naturalised citizens, that is they have demonstrated the ability to speak English and gain knowledge about the government and history of the United States, have the right to vote in all elections. In most states, prisoners are not allowed to vote while they are in jail or prison. Once they are released they may lost the right to vote either temporarily or permanently. Ex-offenders can appeal to have their voting rights restored if they are pardoned by the governor or legislative state authority. The Conservatives are extremely opposed to this taking place.
In the legal context, the black people got the right to vote after the Civil war in 1865 by the fourteenth and the fifteenth amendment. The fifteenth amendment states that 'The right of citizens of the United States 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.' However, many people share the view that although the constitution now recognized the right of blacks to vote, it was not for may years that they were actually able to. Many states passed laws that impeded their voting in one way or the other. There was a literacy act where only literate people were allowed to vote. Since most of the black people were illiterate back then, a majority of them could not vote. Also, some states required voters to pay a fee/tax to register for voting. This automatically excluded the poor people. Most black people lived in poverty at that time and hence, this too indirectly took away their right to vote. Many other similar gambits were employed that disallowed black people to vote. The true change, and hence the true right to vote for the blacks cam after the Civil Rights movement in 1960. At this time, segregation between the black and the white was finished off formally (such as combining black and white schools). One important name to take here would be of Martin Luther King, Jr. Who worked hard in ensuring that the blacks got their right to vote and other privileges that are due for every citizen.
The black people legally got the right to vote after the Civil War in 1865 according to the 14th and 15th amendment of the constitution. The article 1 of the 15th amendment says: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." However, there has been much talk about whether this was the time when they actually got the right to vote and not just on the legal paper as they say. States passed laws that did not deny the black people to vote but rather made it impossible for them to do so. For instance, there was a literacy law that stated that only literate people who could read and right could vote. Most of the black people were illiterate back then and this really impeded their right to vote. Other gambits that were used included paying a tax to vote (obviously the poor and the blacks-who were mostly poor were excluded in this way). In its true sense, blacks got the right to vote after the Civil Rights Movement in 1960's. Black and white separation was bridged and schools merged for both. The black people were recognized and were empowered to render the impeding laws of voting null. One name that is very important in helping the black people to truly be able to vote and stand up for their rights is Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Blacks gained the right to vote in USA in 1966. This led to the emergence of the Black power movement which lasted till 1975. Due to the racism and inequality the black power rose against all odds to fight for their freedom and rights. This mission proved too dangerous and thousands of people sang to their tunes.
At the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King delivered his famous speech "I have a dream" which broke all barriers and the black society rose ahead for their basic rights to freedom. The march happened to be a huge success with almost 200,000 supporters. After that, King had a meeting with President J F Kennedy and their demands were granted. Blacks winning the right to vote had a great impact on the society and thus changed the political landscape.
15th Amendment to the Constitution (This is from the Library of Congress web site)
The 15th Amendment to the Constitution granted African American men the right to vote by declaring that the "right of citizens of the United States 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." Although ratified on February 3, 1870, the promise of the 15th Amendment would not be fully realized for almost a century. Through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests and other means, Southern states were able to effectively disenfranchise African Americans. It would take the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the majority of African Americans in the South were registered to vote.
Well technically they had the right to vote right when slavery ended as the constitution said anyone who was a citizen could vote. Problem was the police and the power structure would allow them to so until the 15th amendment was passed in 1870 they couldn't vote