A Resolution Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

I was glad to partner with Council Member Barbara Foushee on this resolution, which the Town Council approved unanimously this week. We had the privilege of working on the resolution with Dr. Freddie Parker, a historian at North Carolina Central University.

WHEREAS, the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “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”; and 

WHEREAS, the amendment was ratified on February 3, 1870, the last of the three Reconstruction Amendments that were adopted after the Civil War to abolish slavery, extend due process and the equal protection of the laws, and affirm the right to vote; and 

WHEREAS, Black North Carolinians who owned property had been allowed to vote under the state’s 1776 constitution, but were stripped of the right to vote by the 1835 constitution; and 

WHEREAS, Black people sought the franchise immediately after slavery ended, continuing an ongoing struggle that began during the Colonial period; and 

WHEREAS, the Fifteenth Amendment was a radical achievement for its time, and after it hundreds of thousands of formerly enslaved people began to vote, an estimated 2000 Black men were elected to local and state office during Reconstruction, and Black men were elected to serve in the US House of Representatives for the first time on October 19, 1870; and 

WHEREAS, the amendment also represented a political compromise, a watered-down version of proposals that would have ended poll taxes, literacy tests, and other restrictions that were used across the South to prevent Black people from voting for another hundred years; and 

WHEREAS, the fight to protect voting rights, expand voter access, and ensure fair elections is not over, as seen in recent attempts by the North Carolina General Assembly to suppress voting rights, such as voter ID measures, sham investigations of voter fraud, racially motivated gerrymandering, and other efforts designed to prevent Black people from voting; and 

WHEREAS, the year 2020 is the 150th anniversary of the ratification and adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment and is also an election year of momentous importance; and 

WHEREAS, voting in every election and learning and sharing the history of the struggle for voting rights are important tools in effecting change at the federal, state, and local levels; 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Town Council of the Town of Carrboro, North Carolina, encourages all residents to vote and to support and engage in efforts to protect voting rights and ensure fair elections, such as the local and statewide work of Democracy NC, You Can Vote, and Activate! IFC.

This the 23rd day of June, 2020.