The 15th amendment provides individuals with the right to vote regardless of race, color or previous servitude. It was ratified on Feb. 3, 1870. However, the imposing of methods to deter voting among African American men affected the ability of many to be able to vote for several decades after the bill was signed into law.
During the Reconstruction Era when the 15th amendment was passed, African Americans received some limited success in government. African American men served terms in Congress as well as local governments. Some of the methods used to discourage African American men from voting, however, and suppress their influence included tests for literacy, enacting poll taxes and violence. To complicate matters further, Southern states ignored the 14th amendment, which granted citizenship to African Americans. Because African Americans were no longer recognized as citizens in many Southern states, they could not vote.
In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was enacted. Under it, local governments could no longer engage in tactics that prevented African Americans the right to vote, although this did not completely eliminate problems in some Southern states. To date, some state identification practices remain controversial and are criticized for their discouragement of voting by minorities.