Trump argues black Americans have been voting for Democrats 'for over a hundred years' but that's incorrect

  • President Donald Trump, during a rally in Nashville, claimed African-Americans have been voting for Democrats "for over a hundred years."
  • Trump made that comment during a long-winded missive on Tuesday about his dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party. The point was tied into remarks he gave about the November midterm elections.
  • Though the 15th Amendment, codified in 1870, gave the right to vote to all men regardless of their "race, color, or previous condition of servitude," state and local governments implemented policies meant to discourage and prevent African-Americans from exercising that right.
  • It wasn't until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law, just 53 years ago this year, that some of those barriers were addressed.


During a rally in Nashville on Tuesday night, President Donald Trump claimed that African-American voters have been choosing Democrats almost exclusively "for over a hundred years."

That comment was couched in a long-winded missive about the upcoming midterm elections in November, in which Trump aired some of his familiar grievances about the Democratic Party and some of its highest-profile lawmakers.

"African-Americans vote for Democrats, for the most part," Trump said. "Vast majority. They've been doing it for over a hundred years," he added.

While the 15th Amendment in the US Constitution (1870) allowed for all men to vote regardless of their "race, color, or previous condition of servitude," black people, particularly in the South, have faced certain barriers that prevented them from exercising that right.

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President Trump at Nashville rally
US President Donald Trump arrives for a rally at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, May 29, 2018 (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump addresses a rally at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, May 29, 2018 (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump arrives to address a rally at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, May 29, 2018 (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters cheer as US President Donald Trump addresses a rally at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, May 29, 2018 (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump waves after disembarking Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, as he returns from a Nashville 'Make American Great Again' rally, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. The White House announced a flurry of final preparations for Trump's planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un including a meeting with Japan's prime minister as it signaled confidence the on-again, off-again meeting will proceed. Photographer: Mark Wilson/Pool via Bloomberg
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks onstage during a rally in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. Trump is seeking to build a stable of Republicans who will help promote his agenda and serve as a check on Democrats aiming to win majorities in Congress. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump pauses while delivering a speech onstage at a rally in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. Trump is seeking to build a stable of Republicans who will help promote his agenda and serve as a check on Democrats aiming to win majorities in Congress. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks onstage during a rally in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. Trump is seeking to build a stable of Republicans who will help promote his agenda and serve as a check on Democrats aiming to win majorities in Congress. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks onstage during a rally in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. Trump is seeking to build a stable of Republicans who will help promote his agenda and serve as a check on Democrats aiming to win majorities in Congress. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledges supporters onstage during a rally in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. Trump is seeking to build a stable of Republicans who will help promote his agenda and serve as a check on Democrats aiming to win majorities in Congress. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks onstage during a rally in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. Trump is seeking to build a stable of Republicans who will help promote his agenda and serve as a check on Democrats aiming to win majorities in Congress. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he leaves the stage after speaking at a rally in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. Trump is seeking to build a stable of Republicans who will help promote his agenda and serve as a check on Democrats aiming to win majorities in Congress. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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History teaches of the literacy tests, poll taxes, and other measures instituted at the state and local levels that sought to make voting far more difficult for African-Americans.

In many cases, people simply resorted to violence.

Perhaps the most memorable example was the protest march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on March 7, 1965. It is known as "Bloody Sunday," because police confronted demonstrators on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where the lawmen attacked the marchers with billy clubs and tear gas.

It wasn't until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law five months later that some of those institutional barriers were addressed. Voter registrations in the South rose dramatically as a result.

So, African-American voters have only enjoyed sufficient freedom to vote for just over 50 years. Trying to exercise that right before 1965 was a potentially life-threatening proposition.

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