The African American Vote

The Fifteenth Amendment (1869) first granted African American men the right to vote. However, many African Americans, especially those in the South, were still kept from voting due to poll taxes, literacy tests, fraud, intimidation and even death. By 1940, only 3% of voting-age blacks had registered.

Real reform began to happen with the Twenty-fourth Amendment (1964), which prohibited the use of poll taxes, and the Voting Rights Act (1965), which directed the Attorney General to enforce the right to vote for African Americans. By the end of the 1960s, the number of registered voting-age blacks rose to 61% from just 3% in 1940.

But even today, some states continue to attempt to put in place restrictions on voting, such as requiring specific photo IDs and reducing polling times and locations, that disproportionately impact black and other minority voters.

In celebration of Black History Month, North Lake College has created a series of  videos and social media posts highlighting the African American vote. We strongly encourage you to share these stories and to join in on the conversation.







Black History Month Humans of NLC


“I grew up in a very segregated environment. Before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, my parents and grandparents were unable to vote. Since my grandfather was a minister, my family and others would meet at his church to protest and petition in front of the city courthouse in Columbus, where we lived. But sometimes, they would not meet at the same church because of the Ku Klux Klan. If they knew of the discussions we were having, they would go as far as burn our church or homes down. I recall my father and my uncle taking turns staying up at night to make sure nobody came by to shoot or set the house on fire. We needed the right to vote because it gave us power to vote for our political leaders and the opportunity for equal housing, education and jobs. When the Voting Act came into place, my grandparents, who were about 80 years old, were finally able to vote before they passed away. So I don’t take voting for granted because of everything my family and other people of color sacrificed.” #HumansOfNLC#BlackHistoryMonth


Willie Neal
Columbus, MS
Human Resources Director







“I was not old enough to vote before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but I do remember the poll tax. It was put in place to keep black people from voting at the time. It was probably not that much money, but again, people who didn’t have money could not afford to pay for something else. We were always trying to take care of right now, not later on. But the push in the black community was always to make sure everyone knew to pay it, so they could vote. Now, getting to the voting place after you paid the tax was another issue because there was always something to intimidate you from voting. It was something that we had to go through if you chose to vote during that time.” #HumansOfNLC #BlackHistoryMonth


Guy Melton
Longview, TX
Director of TRIO Upward Bound