by Vareva Harris
The theme for the 2020 Black History Month is African Americans and the Vote. This theme highlights struggles and promotes awareness about the importance of the 15th Amendment of the US Constitution. Even before the Civil War, African American men petitioned state legislatures and the US Congress for the right to vote.
In 1870, the 15th Amendment was ratified to include 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.” African Americans in southern states would not fully enjoy this right until after the efforts of leaders in the Civil Rights Movement and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The fight for black voting rights continues in the courts today.
The theme of the voting rights also includes a celebration of the number of African American elected and appointed officials at the local and national levels, campaigns for equal rights legislation, as well as the role of African Americans in traditional and alternative political parties.
Although the struggle continues, local and national African American leaders are serving in elected and appointed positions, such as United States Senator Tim Scott and Congressman James E. Clyburn, both from South Carolina. Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Jerome Adams, United States Surgeon General, and Ja’Ron Smith, Special Assistant to the President of the United States, are all appointees in the Trump Administration.
In South Carolina, 1,000,765 registered voters are non-white, according to scvotes.org. Forty-four members of the South Carolina General Assembly are African Americans; 32 members of the South Carolina House of Representatives and 12 members of the South Carolina State Senate.
Mayor Kenneth Gist, City of Woodruff; Mattie Norman, Woodruff City Council; Sandy Norman, Spartanburg School District Four Board of Trustees; Charlie Mae Gilliam and Marshall Stevens, City of Woodruff Planning Commission and Derrick Scurry, City of Woodruff Chaplin.