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Voting & Voting Rights: Home

A guide to resources on voting including voter registration and election information. This information is non-partisan, focusing on voting rights and citizenship.


Brand of the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library

#VoiceYourVote: The History of African Americans and the Vote

An exhibit highlighting Archives Research Center Resources

Since obtaining the right to vote in 1870, African Americans have fought to make their voices heard. African Americans have encountered voter suppression in the form of poll taxes, literacy tests, and intimidation tactics, in their fight for enfranchisement. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 helped to dismember legal barriers to voting. But even now, voter suppression affects African Americans. The #VoiceYourVote exhibit highlights the struggles and accomplishments of African Americans and their work to voice their vote.

The materials in the exhibit showcase collections held in the Archives Research Center and include the Voter Education Project Organizational Records, Maynard Jackson Mayoral Administrative Records, Clarence Bacote Papers, John H. Wheeler Collection, Grace Towns Hamilton Papers, Political Posters Collection, and the SNCC Vertical File.

#VoiceYourVote chronicles the history of African Americans and their right to vote beginning in the Reconstruction Era and the passing of the 14th amendment, which led to the election of the first African Americans in the United States Congress. The exhibit continues into the Jim Crow South era and contains materials related to early voter registration drives and voter education programs that aided African Americans in their fight for full civil rights. As you move throughout the exhibit, the story of African Americans and the vote unfolds. The first case displays items related to the early years of voting for African Americans from 1870 to 1950s, highlighting the first African American men in the U.S. Congress and early voter registration drive efforts. The second case features pamphlets, newsletters, flyers, and posters about voting and the importance of voter education and registration drives. #VoiceYourVote continues the story with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the struggle to pass legislation through Congress and concludes with a tribute to Black political figures and elected officials in the state of Georgia. The exhibit culminates with a salute to Barack Obama, the first African American President of the United Sates, an event that would not have been possible without the activism from the last century outlined in this exhibit.

Share with others! #VoiceYourVote #VotingExhibit #StudentVote18

Items on display are from the AUC Woodruff Library’s Archives Research Center (ARC) and may be viewed in the ARC Reading Room located on the library’s upper level. Visit for more information on collections, or to schedule an appointment in the Archives.

As you explore the exhibit...

...reflect on and answer the following questions:

  1. Compare and contrast the political progress of African Americans during Reconstruction era and post-Obama era as it pertains to voting Rights and representation in elected office.
  2. Looking forward, what is the biggest legislative hurdle facing African Americans and other minorities today; what legislation would –if you could write and why?
  3. In 1965 the Voting Rights Act outlawed poll taxes and literacy test that sought to disenfranchise African American and minority votes. What are some modern day hurdles minority voters face today and how can they overcome these obstacles?
  4. For years Get out and Vote Campaigns consisted of door to door canvasing, printed mailers, voter registration drives, and most recently social media ads. Many of these practices are still used today. Are they still effective? Why are Why not? If not, how can these methods be innovative in order to increase the effort to mobilize voters?
  5. What do you hope to change by voting?
  6. Does the past struggle for voting rights, mandate that you exercise the right yourself. Is not voting disrespectful to this legacy. Why or why not?
  7. What was something new that you learned from this exhibit? Explain.

Explore Digital Collections on this Topic

Link to the Atlanta University Center Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) Center for Collaborative Teaching & Learning's collection, 'A Change is Gonna Come: A History of African Americans and the Right to Vote'
This collection is part of the Atlanta University Center (AUC) Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) Center for Collaborative Teaching & Learning.


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