The Supreme Court's Seesaw Effect On Black History

The right to vote is the preserver of all other rights. Without it, no other rights can be guaranteed to all Americans, whatever their race, religion, creed or color. Since the brutal days of slavery, In1857, six years earlier, the Supreme Court has been our salvation and our damnation. After 247 years of bondage in America, the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and we were free. However, the supreme Court, in the Dred Scott decision said, "No black man had any rights that any white mans was bound to respect." Unfortunately, that decision  has come back to haunt us more than once.


In 1895, 38 years later, in the Homer Vs Ferguson decision,  the Supreme Court Court said, "Separate but Equal," is the law of the land.The emphasis was always on the separate but never the equal. So we ate in separate restaurants, used separate restrooms, drank from separate water fountains, slept in separate hotels and motels, went to separate schools, lived in separate neighborhoods. It was called segregation.


In 1954, 59 years later, in the Brown vs Board of Education decision, under Chief Justice Earl warren, the Supreme Court decided that "Separate Education Facilities were inherently Unequaled., and ordered the desegregation of schools in the South with all deliberate speed." This decision, however, did not affect our right to vote.


The 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution is clear: The right to vote shall not be denied or abridged on the account of race, and it vests in congress the power to enforce that right by appropriate legislation." That is exactly what the 1965 Voting Rights Act did, and Section 5 was at the heart and soul of the new law which gave millions of blacks a new sense of hope for ourselves and our children.


In 2013, 48 years later; John Roberts' Supreme Court, in  a 5-4 decision said,"History can't repeat itself. Well following the Civil War; when troops were dispatched to the South to ensure that the right  by the newly emancipated slaves was protected, blacks went to the polls in record numbers and to local, state, and federal offices.


Then in 1877, with the Tilman Hayes compromise, Ruther B. Hayes was awarded the presidency, and the federal troops were withdrawn from the South, leaving the newly freed slaves to the mercy of their former masters---the Ku Klux Klan, and the white citizen councils were born. And newly elected blacks were murdered, some on the steps of the Capital.


Following "Bloody Sunday,"in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965, on August 6th, pushed by civil and human rights organizations, President Lyndon Johnson, signed the Voting Rights Act, and we thought we were free again. But with the appointments of Supreme Justices by Republican presidents, the court once again became our damnation. In a 5-4 decision, it decided that blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities must be left to the mercy of those who formerly kept them from voting. It was like the defendant saying to the judge, "I have not hit my wife since you gave me the retraining order." 


In a free society, it is the responsibility of the majority to protect the rights of the minority. And the majority must do nothing to keep the minority  from becoming the majority. However,  2010-2012 Republican-controlled legislatures created measures designed to make it harder for minorities and students to vote. Voter ID laws. early voting cutbacks, community-based voter registration, etc.

Once again the Supreme Court has become our damnation.


Floyd Rose, Senior Servant

Serenity Church

1618 North Lee Street

Valdosta, Georgia 31602

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