All you have to do is crack open a history book, or sit with one of our experienced elders, and you will learn about the many sacrifices made by people of all races in order to ensure Black people obtained the uninhibited right to vote.
No other group of people in America have benefited more from the sacrifices made by so many people who fought, bled and died fighting for our freedom and the right to vote, as Black people have.
The freedom Black Americans experience today came with a significant price tag attached to it, and that freedom has definitely not been free. So much blood has been shed, and so many lives have been lost—all for our freedom and for the precious right to vote.
In fact, if you add up the number of Americans who died in World War I, World War II, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, all of the wars with the Indians, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War and the Korean War, that number would not be as large as the total number of people who died alone in the Civil War fighting to end slavery.
After the Civil War, many Whites migrated from the North to the South in order to help Black people thrive in the new Reconstruction governments. Many of those White abolitionists ran for political office and won. Several Black men were also elected to the U.S. Congress and the South even elected some Black senators. These political gains and the progress made by Black people, as a result of the Reconstruction governments in the South, angered many Southern Whites.
Confederate Army supporters like Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest, and others, made up in their minds that if they wanted to re-establish control and dominance over Black people in this country, then they would have to stop Black men from voting by any means necessary.
Nathan Bedford Forrest and several of his colleagues helped form the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), where he served as the first Grand Wizard. The Klan wore white robes and pretended to be the ghosts of dead Confederate soldiers in order to strike fear into the hearts of anyone, they encountered. Members of the Klan did not want to be recognized, so they wore hoods to cover their faces, primarily, because many of the members of the Klan were prominent citizens and local authority figures.
At night, the Klan would hang signs warning Black people not to vote and threatened to kill any Black man who voted. To further frighten Black voters, the Klan would gather together in their costumes and place a large wooden cross in front of a Black man’s home and set it on fire. This served as a warning to any Black man who decided to vote in the next election. If a Black man defied the Klan and refused to adhere to their warning, he was lynched from a tree so everyone in the city would see him and have second thoughts about attempting to vote in future elections.