Voting Matters

The Charles H. Wright Museum
of African American History

African Americans and the Right to Vote

Voting Matters is an interactive, multimedia exhibition exploring how African Americans, from pre-Reconstruction through the present day, helped develop the basic principles and values of what it means to have the "right to vote."

  • From Subordination to Integration

    Witness the rise to power of the African American voter through massive registration efforts and learn about African American candidates who win election to local, state and federal office for the first time.

    And, unfortunately, how those gains were soon erased.
  • Rights Can Never Be Taken for Granted

    Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican) ends Reconstruction with The Compromise of 1877, which removed all federal troops from the South.

    As a result, African American people were unprotected from white supremacist hate groups that were prevalent throughout the South. By then, northern whites were weary of helping African Americans secure their civil rights.
  • The 72-Year Fight for Women’s Voting Rights

    Despite the success of Reconstruction Era reforms, a women’s right to vote was not written into the Fifteenth Amendment of 1870.

    While men who advocated for the abolition of slavery, full citizenship and the right to vote celebrated their victories, women needed to still fight to win the franchise.
  • How the Electoral College Silences the Majority

    This section of the exhibtion examines the definition and structural mechanisms that have impacted the process of voting through the creation of the Electoral College.

    It highlights the critical role of the Electoral College in the perpetuation of a system of governance in the United States, which recent history has demonstrated is not reflective of the vote by the majority of its citizens.
  • The Reshaping of Voter Suppression

    Gerrymandering occurs when State Legislatures manipulate the boundaries of electoral maps to give an unfair advantage to one political party over its rivals or to dilute the voting power of citizens based on ethnic or linguistic minority groups.