Excerpt from the Covenant with Black America

Prior to the Civil War, African Americans were almost totally disenfranchised throughout the states. Even after enactment of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, in 1870, which gave all men―regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude―the right to vote, many states continued to use various methods to prevent African Americans from voting, including literacy tests, poll taxes, the disenfranchisement of former inmates, intimidation, threats, and even violence. Also, until 1965, federal laws did not challenge the authority of states and localities to establish and administer their own voting requirements. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a new beginning for African American citizens. For the first time, the federal government would require states to comply with the 15th Amendment.

And the Voting Rights Act has worked. African American registration and turnout rates have risen dramatically since 1965, when there were only five black representatives in Congress. Today, there are 43 members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Despite this progress, African Americans have yet to achieve full equality in our democracy. We will reach our goal of equal opportunity when every voter has an equal opportunity to determine the distribution of political power. We can see that America, but we are not there yet. Today, at a time of bipartisan support for creating a multi-ethnic democracy in Iraq and across the globe, we need bipartisan support for a multi-ethnic democracy at home.

-excerpt from Wade Henderson's essay in the Covenant with Black America

To read the rest of this essay, please click here to buy the book.

Organizations Advocating For Change

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights exemplifies
the spirit and pushes forward the agenda of the
Covenant with Black America.

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is the nation's premier civil rights coalition, and has coordinated the national legislative campaign on behalf of every major civil rights law since 1957. Its mission is to promote the enactment and enforcement of effective civil rights legislation and policy. With a new strategy in place, LCCR plans to further their strong record of legislative achievement in 2007. What remains unchanged is uniting all Americans as one nation true to its promise of equal justice, equal opportunity and mutual respect.

Other organizations
Below are links to organizations working on voting, civic participation, and claiming our democracy. We will continue to add organizations, publications, and other resources to this list.

Find out more about Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

The Jamestown Project
Healthcare and Well-Being
Criminal Justice
Police Accountability
Affordable Neighborhoods
Rural Development
Economic Prosperity
Environmental Justice
Digital Divide
Advocating for Change
Youth Call To Action
Plan A Town Hall Meeting
Covenant Curricula
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