As an avid reader of the magazine, I read the article in the
October 29, 1998 issue — titled, “The Tuskegee Experiment’s Long
Shadow” — and find that I am also a victim of the conspiracy theories
concerning African Americans: I had heard the rumor about the fifth
digit in a person’s social security number indicating whether you are
African American or not and I sort of believed it.
Well I have now been overwhelmed with another “rumor.” I have been
told by a group of well-educated acquaintances that the eligibility for
African Americans to vote is up for reconsideration. I was told that it
was urgent that African Americans vote in this election because
Congress, in the next session, will decide if African Americans should
retain their right to vote in United States. Is there is any truth to
Again, the magazine is a great resource tool. Please keep up the good work.
Council on Racial & Ethnic Justice
American Bar Association
Dear Ms. Simmons:
Contrary to what you have heard, African Americans are not in jeopardy of losing their right to vote.
The right of all men and women of color to vote is guaranteed by
Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments to the Constitution, which
respectively, prohibit voter discrimination on the basis of race and
According to the Encyclopedia of African-American History and
Culture, “the Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed by President Lyndon B.
Johnson, was designed to reverse the historic disenfranchisement of the
Black electorate, which had been the hallmark of southern politics
since the end of Reconstruction.” The Voting Rights Act put an end to
practices that made it difficult for Blacks in the South to register
and to vote.
Since 1965, the Voting Rights Act has been extended and
strengthened three times, most recently in 1982, during the Reagan
Administration. The next review and renewal is scheduled to occur in
the year 2007.
It is this upcoming renewal date that has many Black folks worried.
Yet, since the Voting Rights Act does not grant African Americans the
right to vote, even its unlikely failure to be extended would not
result in Blacks being stripped of that right. The Fifteenth and
Nineteenth constitutional amendments uphold this right and are
permanent unless they are repealed by three-fourths (thirty-eight) of
For more information visit the following website: <www.house.gov/clyburn/cc30797.htm>
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