February 3, 1870

15th Amendment Guarantees the Right to Vote

The 15th Amendment was ratified on this date in 1870, declaring that the right to vote could not be denied because of "race, color or previous condition of involuntary servitude."

Despite the Constitutional requirement, "Jim Crow" laws in many parts of the South kept black Americans from the polls for nearly a century, until passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 provided the Federal government with the means to enforce the law. (The 15th Amendment cited race, but not gender. Women of any color were not guaranteed the right to vote until ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.)