African Americans and politics in the United States

The ideals and rhetoric of founding documents such as independence, the bill of rights, and the constitution, as well as modern debates about the war on terror through domestic surveillance and the consequences of the Iraq war, all contribute to the ongoing evolution of democracy in the United States. With various advancements in the world today, the idea and definition of democracy have shifted throughout time. The degree of freedom enjoyed today, in which people can freely sell their ideologies and participate in politics regardless of race or ethnicity, has been a significant step toward achieving democracy. The accomplishments are regarded as a fantastic advancement. Today the United States is the most ideal and most advanced democracy in the world. The United States population is mostly made up of white immigrants from Europe, some immigrants from the Caribbean, Middle East, and African Americans who were ordinarily taken in as slaves during the eth 17th and 18th century. Over time, the United States had been faced with racism and hierarchy in racism among all the groups inhabiting the country. Some racial quotas experienced extreme discrimination and exclusion from the US politics. Nevertheless, there has been tremendous changes that have enhanced inclusivity overtime. This paper will focus on the African Americans and their history in participating in the United States politics.

African Americans and politics 1700-1900

Racial conflict has been one of the prominent features in the history of the United States. The African American had been in the United States for a long time, but they worked as slaves in the large farms of the whites. Though, with time, some blacks were freed and started to own property. The liberation of some African Americans led to the struggle for the African Americans to participate in a free, fair and credible a result , they will have the choice of electing their preferred candidates. The blacks also fought for an opportunity to form working coalitions with other groups of people in the bid to have an equal opportunity in the society which was dominated by the whites and manifesting with racial discrimination. In the eve of the American civil war in the year 1860, the black American population comprised a huge junk of the people in the United States. For instance, 30 percent of the citizens in Texas were blacks. Most of the blacks at the time were slaves and were not allowed to vote irrespective of whether they were slaves or free. In 1865 liberation was announced in Texas but the government formed then withheld the political rights of the blacks.

Towards the end, if the American civil war and during the reconstruction era, the congress of the united states in some occasions discussed the rights of the blacks who had been freed following the emancipation proclamation in 1863 and the abolishing of slavery by the Thirteenth Amendment in the year 1865. Later on in the year 1866, the Congress gain came up with a change in the United States Constitution which allowed for guaranteed citizenship and equal protection for all Americans irrespective of their race or ethnicity. Some states rejected the amendment. However, the harsh punishment that came with failure to implement the bill forced some states to put the amendment into practice.

The 15h Amendment to the United States Constitution was the most significant in bringing on board the black Americans into the politics of the United States. In the bill, the federal government prohibited the state governments from preventing citizens of the United States from voting irrespective of their color or race (Madison, Hamilton, & Jay, 1987). The fifteenth amendment bore fruits when the first black American was elected to the United States Senate for the Mississippi. Hiram Ravels was elected on the 25th February 1870 as the first African American senator following his hard work and exhibition of leadership throughout the civil war (Greenberg, Page, & PAGE, 2001). He helped build a school for the freed black African Americans and was a minister in Episcopal Church. His entry into the Senate was a historical moment which signified a huge step made towards attaining a fair democracy. In the same year, joseph Hayne Rainey was also the first black American to be elected to the House of Representatives for a four years term.

The entry of black Americans into the United States politics did not go unchallenged. Republicans, poor whites, and blacks were most of the time targeted through violence and intimidation by the Democrats. In the year 1866, a violent secret society Ku Klux Klan was founded in Tennessee and unleashed a reign of terror in the south against republican’s leaders both white and black by assassinating them. In one of Louisiana parishes, a crowd of people damaged the Republican newspaper, dragged the editor out of the town and came back to murder over 200 blacks. At the same time, social sharing in Georgia led a group of over 400 whites who were armed in attacking the blacks during the presidential elections. During the electioneering period of the year 1868, it is believed that over 1000 blacks were murdered in the cold. Despite the fact that the blacks had been given the right to vote, some of them did not participate in elections following numerous incidences of coercion, violence, and intimidation and poll taxes.

1901 to date

The 20th century saw significant milestones made towards having an inclusive democratic environment in the United States. This was brought about by some protests and amendments to the Constitution by the Congress of the United States. At the same time, the first and Second World War played a significant role in the development of the democracy in the country. Registration of black Americans as voters was faced with some challenges. By the year 1940, only 3 percent of the 5 million black Americans who were legible to vote were registered as electors. However, by 1947 there was a sharp increase in over 27 percent of the black Americans registering as voters. Florida and Tennessee were the only states which had over 50 percent of its blacks registered as voters.

Civil rights movements in the 1960s instated a constitutional travesty. Consequently, President Johnson in 1965 called upon the Congress to restore the right to vote to the descendants of slaves. The right to vote were passed by both houses and signed into law in August 1965. Martin Luther King was a champion for the Africans rights during his active years as an activist. He pushed for the development and enactment of the civil rights act into law (Howard-Pitney, Washington, & Royster, 2007). He led most black’s Americans in the United States in protests that fought for equal opportunity for all Americans. However, he was killed later in 1968 by a white racists. Today the whites enjoy the same voting rights just like the others. In fact, the United States voted in the first African American president Barrack Obama in the 2008 elections. The participation of the groups in the United States politics has a huge impact on the general outcome. The US has experienced tremendous changes following the contributions of the black Americans in the government.

The participation and vote of the blacks into the House of Representatives or the Congress is essential in the United States because representative democracy is the rule in the United States. The use of representative democracy came in spontaneously because there are some policies developed in the United States in a day. The electorate is only mandated with the responsibility of electing leaders who play the critical role of policy formulation. The fact that blacks are the minority was not the primary reason for the failure to participate in the elections. Racism was the major factor for the poor participation. In fact, even women struggled to have the right to take part in the United States politics. Concisely the United States has undergone a tremendous transformation from the time that I gained independence to date regarding democracy. The changes have been gradually and brought about by various civil rights activism and the desire to have a society providing equal opportunities to the Americans irrespective of their race or ethnicity.


Greenberg, E., Page, B., & PAGE. (2001). The Struggle for Democracy: Election Updates. Pearson College Division.

Howard-Pitney, D., Washington, B. T., & Royster, J. J. (2007). Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the Civil Rights Struggle of the 1950s and 1960s + Southern Horrors and Other Writings + Up from Slavery: A Brief History With Documents / the Anti-lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells, 1892-1900 / With Related Documents. Macmillan Higher Education.

Madison, J., Hamilton, A., & Jay, J. (1987). The Federalist Papers. Penguin Books Limited.

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