“Black Men, Even When You ‘Pay Your Debt To Society’, You Still Can’t Vote…”

dog on Black manBlack men incarcerated

…at least not in these six southern states –Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia. Let’s take a look at something, shall we?

Punishing people with felony records hits African Americans harder than other races: 7 percent of blacks are disenfranchised compared to 1.8 percent of the rest of the country, the study found. The numbers are more drastic in Florida and Virginia. In Virginia, 20 percent of blacks can’t vote. In Florida, that number is 23 percent. (Kentucky, which is safely in Republican hands, is the only other state where 1 in 5 African Americans can’t vote.)

“There’s no question this has a basis in race discrimination,” ACLU Voting Rights Program director Laughlin McDonald told The Huffington Post. “It’s part of the history of the racial minorities in the South. The Southern states adopted a whole variety of measures to take away the right to vote after Reconstruction.”
source:HuffingtonPost – felon voting laws disenfranchise 5.85 million Americans with criminal records

Just why was the Voting Rights Act of 1965 established? Let’s take a look.

This act was signed into law on August 6, 1965, by President Lyndon Johnson. It outlawed the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, including literacy tests as a prerequisite to voting.

This “act to enforce the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution” was signed into law 95 years after the amendment was ratified. In those years, African Americans in the South faced tremendous obstacles to voting, including poll taxes, literacy tests, and other bureaucratic restrictions to deny them the right to vote. They also risked harassment, intimidation, economic reprisals, and physical violence when they tried to register or vote. As a result, very few African Americans were registered voters, and they had very little, if any, political power, either locally or nationally.

The sheer, blatant racism in the south continues with the disenfranchisement of African Americans. The game is the same, only the rules have changed. The south still has the same old face of hate today as it did before the Civil War was fought. It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same, at least in the south. We already know that the disproportionate number of people locked up for petty offenses, i.e., the War on Drugs, end up with a felony record, are Black men. We also know that the vast majority of the prison population consists of Black men. This is intentional. There is nothing coincidental about it. If we really think that we have come a long way in changing the mindset of those in the same states that preferred to secede from the union than give up slavery, take the rose colored glasses off and look around. Really, how far have we come? Obviously, not far at all!

8 thoughts on ““Black Men, Even When You ‘Pay Your Debt To Society’, You Still Can’t Vote…”

  1. Shelby, not all of us in the south stick to those rules. I haven’t since I was told why my best friend couldn’t go to school with me because she was Black. So, I rebeled from the time I was 6 years old, and have been doing so for 59 years. I ain’t gonna stop now.

    Yes, the laws are so unfair and WE ALL need to change them. Not just one side or the other, all of us.

    By the way, you are the first person I made a post to since I joined earlier today. YOU are that special to me!


    • Phuggy, bless your heart! Of course I wasn’t referring to you. I do remember reading your article about your experiences. I do hope that you saved them so that you can post them elsewhere, they really are that good and they make a statement.

      As you know, I’m currently in the south and you’ve read some of my articles on another site. So, you pretty much know my views on a wide variety of topics. I have many concerns and obviously, I don’t have a problem stating them.

      You are special to me also. I hope that you know that as it will always be true and I do thank you for your support. I look forward to reading your work!


    • Bless you too!! And you most definitely keep writing!! I am very passionate about what I write about. There is so much ‘injustice’ in the world and if I can do no more than, along with others, put it out there and keep putting it out there, than that is what I will do.

      Thank you so much again for your comments.


      • You always welcome Shelby.

        Just checked out your blog and i am touched. i am a proud Ghanaian (Black) doing my masters in computer applications in India, will proceed to the states for another masters degree aft this one hopefully.

        I have experienced a lot of racism here in India but its all good, im above that. I strongly believe in the fact that education is endless. Mayflower Beacon School Complex is my dad’s school, he’s an educationist and we’ve been through tough times running this school but hey with God all things are possible.

        The sky is just the beginning and we will keep on reaching for the top. You are warmly welcome to be a part of our success story. GOD BLESS YOU!


  2. I agree with the concept “do the crime, do the time,” but there has to be a time in an individuals life when punitive measures finally expire. It is already hard for an ex-con when he/she gets out because finding regular employment becomes an epic struggle. Most of the crimes these men and women are paying for again and again happened in their youth. To me, the youthful offenses and bad choices are the most damaging. I read an article recently in my local paper (The Deseret News) stating:

    “More than half of all black males in America drop out of high school, and their prospects are dim: 23 percent of young black men ages 16 to 24 who dropped out of high school are incarcerated, compared to a rate of 6 to 7 percent of other young dropouts in the United States, said a study by Massachusetts’ Northeastern University.

    “Such staggering loss of human and intellectual capital has a dire effect on the U.S. economy. If all of the students who dropped out of high school in 2007 had graduated, the U.S. economy would have benefited from an additional $329 billion in income over their lifetimes, according to Alliance for Excellent Education” (02/09/2013).

    The staggering weight of youthful choices not only hurts the young person who made the mistake for the rest of their lives, it also hurts the economy as a whole. The local economy in particular is wreaked leaving whole neighborhoods bereft, raped of economic energy. The devastation is then compounded as you mention by permanent loss of voting rights.

    Political and economic disenfranchisement is dirty. As conservatives (and yes, my home state Utah is among the most conservative) continue to loose elections because of stupidity and racism, conservatives just might pull their heads out and find ways to rectify the problems they cause by their own ignorance.


    • I agree completely with your comment in its entirety!

      You mention how the economy would have benefited from the additional income if Black men were not incarcerated right after dropping out of high school. The fact that some are benefiting is the problem. The Prison Industrial Complex is benefiting, not to mention we have the privatization of prisons. There is big money to be made in incarceration. In my opinion, it is the new form of slavery. Criminalize them and you have yourself free labor as we all know convict labor is big business. It is the 1% thing. We are not to thrive, we are to struggle to survive. That is what it’s coming to. We hear how the economy is rebounding. That may be true for some, but not for many. There are those who can only find employment through ‘temp’ agencies and we all know what they’re like. Many temp agencies make sure that their employees do not work enough hours or at a particular job long enough to qualify for benefits. It’s all a set-up.
      As I’ve always said, we Americans create problems that just create more problems and aren’t at all interested in solving any of them or at least those we don’t care to. But only look at Prohibition.


  3. Mayflower, I think what you’re doing is absolutely needed and wonderful! Education is the key because it cannot be taken away from us. I, too am a firm believer in continuing my education either by reading, taking classes, joining educational groups, attending seminars, co-hosting seminars, and thus, continuing my education by any means necessary.
    Stay strong!


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