The founding principles of the United States embrace the ideals of freedom and equality. Contradictions exist where systemic exclusions and suppression of communities of color are found. This country’s laws and public policies were designed explicitly to prohibit people of color from full participation. However, laws and policies should be scaffolding that is intended to guide progress. The legal system no longer exists in the past (Jim Crow past), but it remains connected to American policymaking (Smithsonian National Museum of American History, 2019).
The nation has been struggling for centuries to prevent the repugnant forms of suppression and exclusion but ignored to uproot entrenched structural racism. It ultimately resulted in American democracy that use to concentrate on power and influence. Such as, the Center for American Progress Analysis reported while considering the data collected in 2016 that about 9.5 million American adults, majority people of color, lack full voting rights. Restricting to participate in the democratic processes fully came across as a lack of political power, including the authority to elect candidates with shared values to enact policy priorities. It makes people of color, African Americans, endure suppression, exclusion, and discrimination in the democratic processes (Goldstone, 2018).
The mentioned critics represent the lawmakers’ consistency in designing policies that pose discrimination. The enactment of such flawed policies preserves barriers to cast a ballot for people of color. Nevertheless, promoting full participation demands public policy efforts that help dismantle long-standing barriers while protecting the rights to vote for all citizens. Despite the 14th and 15th Amendments, lawmakers continued to practice policies that suppress, exclude, and discriminate against people of color. Therefore, the reconstruction is desired to enlighten the path for people of color by providing a true glimpse of American democracy.
Despite the need to make reforms, we see the prevalent brutal suppressions and disenfranchisement. However, the nation became diverse and more attention is being provided to expand voting rights, the systemic defaults causing increased exclusion of people of color from electoral participation. It reflected that the nation’s democratic policies and institutions remain racially homogenous. Black activists launched the civil rights movement to ensure all the citizens, regardless of race, can freely exercise the protections and cherish the rights guaranteed to them. The leaders and the participants suffer hardships and challenges in a fight against segregation, discrimination, and voter suppression.
The Black activists leading the movement succeeded in dismantling discrimination through nonviolent protests, litigation, determination, and civil disobedience. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 introduced a new era of democratic participation. It provided authority to the civil rights activists to break Jim Crow law’s grip and ensure everyone can exercise the fundamental voting right. Furthermore, this Act prohibited any procedure limiting anyone’s right to vote because of their ethnicity, gender, race, color, or cultural heritage. Also, it expanded access to voters of color towards the ballot boxes (U.S. Department of Justice, 2019). As a result, an increased number of Black people are found registered to vote.
Goldstone, L. (2018). America’s relentless Suppression of Black Voters. The New Republic. https://newrepublic.com/article/151858/americas-relentless-suppression-black-voters
Smithsonian National Museum of American History. (2019). White Only: Jim Crow in America. https://americanhistory.si.edu/brown/history/1-segregated/white-only-1.html
U.S. Department of Justice. (2019). History of Federal Voting Rights Laws. https://www.justice.gov/crt/history-federal-voting-rights-laws
U.S. Department of Justice. (2019). About Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. https://www.justice.gov/crt/about-section-5-voting-rights-act