Seven groups, including the N-double-A-C-P, are collaborating on a celebration of voting rights. This August marks the 85th anniversary of the 19th Amendment which gave U.S. women the right to vote. This year’s also the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Right Act which helped ensure black Americans could vote. Reverend Keith Ratliff of the Iowa Chapter of the N-double-A-C-P says it’s important to remember the past. “Prior to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, especially in the southern states, many of the African American voters, minority voters vote was very low because of discrimination,” he says. “After the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, (minority) voter registration not only doubled, it tripled and quadrupled in many southern states.”Pat Jensen of the League of Women Voters of Iowa will help host some of the “Celebrate Voting” events around Iowa this summer. “The League of Women Voters often says democracy is not a spectator sport and we need to convince the young people that indeed it is not,” she says. “If we can introduce a little more history to them in terms of how difficult it was for first black males, then women and then people in the south…to see how difficult the struggle really was maybe they will appreciate that it isn’t a privilege but it is a right that they have (to vote).” There’ll be an essay competition as well as a traveling exhibit that will tell the story of how long and difficult the struggle for voting rights was.
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