Reproductive Justice can only be achieved when Black women, girls, and gender-expansive individuals can vote as equal citizens of the United States, freely, and without voter suppression—finally making the rights enshrined in the 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments of the Constitution a reality.
The right to vote is a fundamental component of democracy. Black Americans’ fight for the right to vote has been a long and difficult struggle, often marred by brutality and barriers. In the past, opponents of equal rights used their power to disenfranchise Black communities through numerous efforts to block people from registering to vote, casting ballots, and holding political office.
“Black women played an important role in getting the 15th and 19th Amendments passed. They understood that both their race and their sex affected their rights and opportunities.”
In 1965, Congress passed The Voting Rights Act, which provided national protections of the right to vote; prohibited states and local governments from passing laws that resulted in discrimination against racial/ethnic minorities; and provided a “preclearance process,” whereby any state with a history of discrimination against racial or language minorities was required to receive approval from the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) to ensure that changes did not discriminate against a protected group. Congress updated the Act in 1970 and 1975. However, in 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the Act that blocked the DoJ’s ability to enforce voting rights. In the absence of federal oversight, numerous states have passed and introduced laws that suppress the voting rights of Black and Brown voters—including curtailing early voting, restricting mail-in voting, eliminating ballot drop boxes, limiting citizen-led ballot initiatives, and gerrymandering legislative districts.
Many national and state organizations are leading efforts to address racial injustice in the electoral process, restore the heart of the Voting Rights Act, and ensure that every American can be represented at the ballot box.
In Our Own Voice, along with its powerful network of state-based partners, is working to engage and motivate Black women voters to use their voting power in the American electorate and to Join together so our collective voices in the fight for reproductive health, rights, and justice are heard loud and clear. We know for Black families and communities to thrive, we must elect policy makers who have the same values as we do. To have policy makers who both care about and represent us, we must have full rights to the ballot box.
Why It Matters
Black women are the largest voting constituency in the American electorate. Every presidential election, we register voters, organize our communities, turn out in high numbers, and deliver the votes that give politicians their jobs. But those numbers drop during mid-term elections and fall even more during state and local elections.
At In Our Own Voice, we are committed to increasing Black women’s voter turnout in local and state elections, and educating a voting constituency that understands the role state and local policy makers play in their everyday lives.
Find out more about our “I AM A Reproductive Justice VOTER” initiative, a long-term strategy for building voter participation and influence among Black women.