SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) – By 1964, African Americans had had the right to vote for 95 years. They also had varying levels of difficulty exercising that right before the 24th Amendment prohibited poll taxes, which were deemed to be discriminatory.
A compliment to the Civil Rights Act as part of a second Reconstruction, the 24th Amendment fully delivered on the promise of the 15th Amendment by also removing other devices, such as literacy tests and grandfather clauses, that were used to restrict the black vote. Increased access to the polls ultimately led to more minority participation in government.
"When the 24th Amendment was passed in 1964, we see the emergence of political empowerment of black folk in the 70s,'' said Zaphon Wilson, head of Armstrong Atlantic State University's Political Science Department. "I think in 1968 there were 1,450 some odd black elected officials. Today, there are 10,500. So, with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we see the dynamic growth of black political empowerment across the South and the United States.''
Georgia had a poll tax of $1.50, but the state voluntarily ended it in 1945, 19 years before the 24th Amendment.