Bill of Rights: The Fifteenth Amendment

The last of the three Reconstruction Amendments.


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The Bill of Rights has guaranteed our freedoms and rights for over 200 years. In this regular series, Dean Leonard Baynes with the University of Houston Law Center looks at how they relate to society today.

“The Fifteenth Amendment gave citizens the right to vote, no matter their race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Ratified in 1870, it was the last of the three Reconstruction Amendments.”

“However, states imposed literacy tests, poll taxes, and other restrictions that prevented African American men from voting. African American women were not granted the right to vote until the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 which granted all women in the U.S. the right to vote.”

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and several other Supreme Court decisions eventually played a crucial role in protecting voting rights for citizens of color.”

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