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Black suffrage refers to black people's right to vote. Black suffrage has long been an issue in countries established under conditions of black minorities. Black men in the United States did not gain the right to vote until after the Civil War. In 1870, the 15th Amendment was ratified to prohibit states from denying a male citizen the right to vote based on “race, color or previous condition of servitude." "Black suffrage" in the United States in the aftermath of the American Civil War explicitly referred to the voting rights of black men only. Black women still had many hurdles to face before obtaining this right.
The passage of the 19th Amendment, which was ratified by the United States Congress on August 18 and then certified as law on August 26, 1920 technically granted women the right to vote. However, the 19th Amendment did not initially extend to women of African American, Asian American, Hispanic American and American indian heritage because of widespread enduring inequality and racism from within the ranks of the women's suffrage movement. It wasn't until the Voting Rights Act was passed nearly a half century later, on August 6, 1965 that black women were officially allowed to exercise their right to vote.
The Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 restricted the right of Aboriginal Australians to vote in Australian federal elections. This was changed in 1962, when the Commonwealth Electoral Act was amended.
British Empire and United Kingdom
- Beginning in 1265, a small number of landed aristocrats and gentry had the right to vote for members of the Parliament of England and Knights of the Shire. From 1432, only forty-shilling freeholders held the parliamentary franchise. Suffrage was restricted to males by custom rather than statute.
- Olaudah Equiano and the London Corresponding Society (founded 1792) argued for expanded suffrage. Also see: Radicalism (historical). The vote was restricted to adult males and also by property qualifications, but never by race. The first black person known to have voted in a British election was Ignatius Sancho who qualified in Westminster in 1774 and 1780.
- The Reform Act 1832 extended the vote to landed middle class men.
- Citizens of Crown Colonies did not have the right to vote for the government of the British Empire.
- Colonial Jamaica sometimes had partial privileges to elect leaders. The Constitution of Jamaica provides for partial voting rights.
- The British monarchy appointed all leaders of Colonial Sierra Leone until 1953; the 1962 Sierra Leonean general election was the country's first election with universal suffrage.
- The West Indies Federation (1958–1962) was slated to become autonomous but never did; a number of its member states have since achieved autonomy.
- Non-UK Commonwealth citizens residing in the UK have full voting rights as they are recognised as citizens. Prior to the British Nationality Act 1981 Commonwealth Citizens were officially called British Subjects and always counted as such in law. When the first British Nationality Act 1948 was passed it reconfirmed this right and also statutorily defined citizenship rights for British Protected Persons which before 1948 was granted solely by royal prerogative unlike for British Subject/Commonwealth Citizens.
- Republic of Ireland citizens, although not Commonwealth Citizens still enjoy rights full voting rights in the UK, occupying the unique position of Foreigners with British subject hood.
- The Cape Qualified Franchise restricted voting by property ownership but not explicitly by race.
- In 1853, the Queen authorized a Cape Colony parliament, which drafted a Constitution with no explicit racial restriction.
- Cape Colony's "Responsible Government" Constitution, issued in 1872, explicitly prohibited racial discrimination.
- Under Prime Minister Gordon Sprigg, the Colony passed the 1877 "Registration Bill", disenfranchising Black communal land owners.
- The Franchise and Ballot Act of 1892 raised the threshold for suffrage from £25 to £75, accomplishing de facto disenfranchisement of many non-White voters
- The Representation of Natives Act, 1936 moved Black South Africans onto separate voter rolls
- Apartheid in South Africa refers to a period of heavily legislated white supremacy during which Black suffrage was heavily restricted.
- The Coloured vote constitutional crisis in the 1950s originated with the Separate Representation of Voters Act, 1951, an attempt to revoke suffrage for Coloured voters. The Separate Representation of Voters Amendment Act, 1968 fully revoked Coloured representation in Parliament, creating the distinct Coloured Persons Representative Council.
- The Promotion of Bantu Self-government Act, 1959 ended Black representation in Parliament through the creation of Bantustans; Black citizenship was transferred fully to Bantustans by the Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act, 1970
- South Africa's 1983 Constitution, approved by the White-only constitutional reform referendum, created the Tricameral Parliament, giving representation in separate Chambers to Coloured and Indian voters. Coloured voters were represented in the House of Representatives of South Africa.
- The South African Constitution of 1993, also known as the Interim Constitution, provided for the 1994 South African general election: the first South African election with Universal suffrage for adults. The date—27 April—is celebrated as a national holiday called "Freedom Day".
- The current Constitution of South Africa, adopted in 1997, protects all citizens' right to vote in Chapter Two.
- Germany took official control in 1884; it was known as German South-West Africa. German sovereignty was contested by the Khaua-Mbandjeru Rebellion and the Herero Wars, which were brutally suppressed.
- South Africa gained control of the area during World War I. It eventually governed South-West Africa under apartheid laws and divided the area into ten bantustans.
- Many residents recognized SWAPO, not South Africa, as the legitimate authority. The United Nations recognized SWAPO as Namibia's legitimate representative in 1972.
- The 22-year Namibian War of Independence culminated in the New York Accords of 1988, leading to Namibia's first free election in November 1989.
- The Constitution of Namibia, adopted in 1990, provides in Article 28 for "direct, universal and equal suffrage".
- Before the Civil War:
- Free negroes in the U.S. had suffrage in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The right to vote was rescinded in New Jersey (1807) and Pennsylvania (1838).
- Abolitionists sought an end to slavery, and many demanded further rights such as suffrage.
- Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) held that persons of African descent were not citizens of the U.S.
- Ending requirement for Blacks to own property to vote was proposed and defeated in the 1860 New York state election. Blacks with property were already able to vote in New York.
- During the Reconstruction Era, the U.S. Congress passed laws favoring Black suffrage; in practice, Blacks still faced obstacles to voting.
- Some of the "Black Codes" passed shortly after the legal abolition of slavery explicitly prevented Blacks from voting. Most of these laws were repealed or invalidated.
- The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1870, stipulates: "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."
- The Enforcement Acts increased federal penalties for voter intimidation, particularly by White terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.
- The 1873 Colfax massacre occurred when White locals fought with Blacks and federal troops over Black voting in Grant Parish, Louisiana.
- In United States v. Cruikshank (1876), the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated some of the Enforcement Acts, ruling that the federal government could only intervene to prevent discrimination by state actors
- In United States v. Reese (1876), the Court upheld voting requirements such as literacy tests which do not explicitly discriminate on the basis of race.
- Disfranchisement after the Reconstruction Era (Also see Jim Crow laws and Voting rights of African Americans and poor whites)
- Voting rights were one issue addressed by the civil rights movement (1896–1954).
- Black women did not gain the legal right to vote until passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920. The African-American Woman Suffrage Movement focused on the particular challenges faced by Black women, even after the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments. Also see: Mary Church Terrell.
- A group of Black activists formed the Niagara Movement in 1905, rebuking the Atlanta compromise and issuing a Declaration which demanded universal manhood suffrage.
- The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People formed in 1910 and pursued voting rights mostly through litigation.
- In Guinn v. United States (1915), the Supreme Court struck down a grandfather clause which functionally exempted only White people from literacy tests.
- The Court ruled against White primaries in Nixon v. Herndon (1927) and Nixon v. Condon (1932), upheld white primaries in Grovey v. Townsend (1935) and finally banned them with Smith v. Allwright (1944) and Terry v. Adams (1953).
- In Breedlove v. Suttles (1937), The Court upheld the constitutionality of a poll tax requirement for voting.
- Florida voting rights activists Harriette Moore and Harry T. Moore were assassinated by the KKK in 1951.
- The Civil Rights Movement brought renewed attention to Black voting rights.
- In Gomillion v. Lightfoot (1960) the Supreme Court struck down a plan to redraw district lines of Tuskegee, Alabama, on the grounds that it would disenfranchise Black voters.
- The Twenty-fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, passed in 1962–1964, banned poll taxes as a precondition for voting in federal elections. The Supreme Court ruled against state poll taxes in Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections (1966).
- Civil rights leaders began organized campaigns to register Black voters, including the federally endorsed Voter Education Project.
- A particularly intense voting rights struggle in Mississippi led to the death of Medgar Evers in 1963 and the Freedom Summer campaign in 1964. Organizers also created the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to challenge the White-dominated Mississippi Democratic Party. Also see: Council of Federated Organizations'.
- In Alabama, the highly publicized Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 met with a violent response, bringing more scrutiny to suppression of Black voters.
- The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibited a range of discriminatory state voting practices.The Supreme Court upheld this law in South Carolina v. Katzenbach (1966).
- Malcolm X delivered his "The Ballot or the Bullet" speech in 1964.
- Contemporary issues relating to voting rights and disenfranchisement of Black Americans:
- The practice of gerrymandering and the creation of "majority minority" districts have sometimes been identified as threats to Black voting rights in the U.S.
- The Supreme Court limits the 1960 Gomillion decision in Mobile v. Bolden (1980), distinguishing between racist effects and racist intent, and prohibiting only the latter.
- The Court ruled in Shaw v. Reno (1993) that if a redistricting plan is "so bizarre on its face that it is 'unexplainable on grounds other than race'", it must be held to a "strict scrutiny" standard under the Fourteenth Amendment.
- The Court has since struck down redistricting plans for racial gerrymandering in Miller v. Johnson (1995), Bush v. Vera (1996), and several more cases. See: Category:United States electoral redistricting case law.
- The film American Blackout alleges that disenfranchisement of Black voters in Georgia led to the defeat of Cynthia McKinney in DeKalb County's 2002 Democratic primary.
- The Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder (2013), holding that the racist practices which necessitated the law in 1965 no longer present a problem in 2013.
- The practice of gerrymandering and the creation of "majority minority" districts have sometimes been identified as threats to Black voting rights in the U.S.
- Before the Revolution, only some local elections were held, the first real national suffrage appeared in 1791.
- From 1791, France installed several male suffrage systems, alternating between census and universal suffrage. In mainland France, there was no racial criterion to be a voter so technically from this date, Black (male) voters existed and received the same rights as non-Blacks. They were still rare as segregation in France was not based directly on skin color or racialism but on the status as a slave or as a free human. Later it would be based on status as a mainland citizen or as a colony citizen.
- From there, through the first half of the 19th century, frequent changes in the national government caused the colonies (where most slaves were, as their presence was restricted in mainland France) to have different rules than mainland France, often illegally. Several uprising occurred in the colonies during this period and the colonial rules diverged considerably from mainland France.
- In mainland France:
- In 1794 the government abolished slavery.
- In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte re-established slavery and, possibly owing to his disagreements with Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, a black general, forbade Blacks and people of mixed-ancestry (mulâtres) to enter mainland France.
- In 1815 slave trade was abolished, but not slavery
- In 1848 slavery is formally abolished in France and all slaves are freed.
- In the French Colonial Empire, however, most indigenous people were not recognized as full French citizens and therefore often did not have the right to vote:
- Vincent Ogé, who had been working in Paris during the Revolution, returned to the island slave colony of Saint-Domingue and demanded voting rights. Ogé led an insurrection in 1790 and was executed in 1791. Enslaved people took control of the island in the subsequent Revolution and established the Republic of Haiti. (Elections were held but the democracy was not stable.)
- France promoted a model of assimilation according to which Blacks and indigenous people could gain voting (and other) rights by successfully conforming to French culture. These high-status Blacks were known as les Évoluées.
- People living in French colonies primarily fell under the Code de l'indigénat. Les indigènes had some voting privileges, but these could be modified without their consent.
- Following the Revolution of 1848, France granted limited representation to the Four Communes of Senegal. Ordinary residents of these cities gained full voting rights in 1916 after the election of Blaise Diagne.
- Lamine Guèye (another Senegalese politician) also achieved expanded voting rights ("Loi Lamine Guèye") for people in the colonies.
- Residents of African colonies were permitted to vote in the 1958 French constitutional referendum, which established the French Community. Most colonies voted for independence, resulting in the creation of 17 Black nations in the Year of Africa.
- Blacks in the Belgian Congo voted for the first time in municipal elections of 1957.
- The first nationwide election was the 1960 Belgian Congo general election. See also: Mouvement National Congolais
- The assassination of elected President Patrice Lumumba led to years of crisis followed by the Zaire dictatorship. The next free, multi-party election was the 2006 Democratic Republic of the Congo general election.
- Decolonization of Africa
- Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples
- Racial Equality Proposal, 1919
- Universal suffrage
- Women's suffrage
- African-American women's suffrage movement
- Right of foreigners to vote
- Voting rights of Australian Aborigines
- Black nationalism
- 1869 Convention of Colored Citizens of Minnesota
- "Electoral milestones for Indigenous Australians". Australian Electorla Commission.
- "Ancient voting rights", The History of the Parliamentary Franchise, House of Commons Library, 1 March 2013, p. 6, retrieved 16 March 2016
- "The American Revolution". www.nps.gov. Retrieved 2020-03-20.
- "Black Philadelphians Defend their Voting Rights, 1838 | The American Yawp Reader". Retrieved 2020-03-20.
- Everette Swinney, "Enforcing the Fifteenth Amendment, 1870–1877." Journal of Southern History 28#2 (1962): 202–218. 
- Beckman, Ludvig. "Who Should Vote? Conceptualizing Universal Suffrage in Studies of Democracy." Democratisation 15.1 (2008): 29-48.
- Paxton, Pamela, et al. "A half-century of suffrage: New data and a comparative analysis." Studies in Comparative International Development 38.1 (2003): 93-122.
- Robinson, George M. Fredrickson Edgar E. Black Liberation: A Comparative History of Black Ideologies in the United States and South Africa (Oxford University Press, 1995).
- Sneider, Allison. "The New Suffrage History: Voting Rights in International Perspective." History Compass 8.7 (2010): 692-703. focus on women.