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The Long Search for Equality

Updated: Jul 2, 2019



By Helen Bass


I think constantly about the timeline of American history and how recently the right to vote was given to many minorities. And, for many, the fight goes on.

Just 150 years ago, only white men were allowed to vote. The 15th Amendment, granting African-American men the right to vote, was adopted into the U.S. Constitution in 1870. Despite the amendment, by the late 1870s, discriminatory practices still prevented African Americans from voting, especially in the South. Then, in 1920 the 19th Amendment was ratified and women were given that right.

And still, century-and-a-half later, there are ongoing efforts to restrict or even deny those rights to people of color. It’s no wonder that minorities in this country still feel oppressed, and rightfully so.

The year 1619 is incredibly important to American history. It was then that approximately 20 slaves arrived in Jamestown, which eventually led to the growth and development of slavery throughout the British colonies in North America. Slavery ended in 1865, and 1954 marked the end of legal segregation in America.

It wasn't until 1975 that Hispanics gained equality through amendments to the Voting Rights Act of 1964, while it took until 1990 for voting accommodations for disabled Americans to be put into place. The LBGTQ+ community wasn't able to marry until 2015 — and in many areas, this is still a controversial issue.

It's easy for many of us to forget that the fight for equality was long and hard. Through slavery, segregation, and the constant racism they face in America, the fight may have “ended” 65 years ago, but the granting of rights isn't enough when a nation's entire history has been built upon the oppression of others

The mindset created in European countries that carried to America was that heterosexual white men are the greatest of all and God put them here to occupy all the land and spread Christianity while doing so. It is a mindset that holds others down or categorizes someone based on their race, socioeconomic status, and religion.

The mindset created in European countries that carried to America was that heterosexual white men are the greatest of all and God put them here to occupy all the land and spread Christianity while doing so. It is a mindset that holds others down or categorizes someone based on their race, socioeconomic status, and religion.

When neo-Nazis violently protest in Charlottesville without condemnation from our president, how could you possibly believe our country has come far enough or done enough. If we as a country cannot truly condemn racism and stand with minorities who are suffering from discrimination and violence every day, how can freedom and safety truly be a promise to every American citizen?

Legally, races cannot be separated or treated differently, but that doesn’t rid people of the ideology that founded our country. It also doesn't fix the system that continues to oppress based on socioeconomic status or race. After over 300 years of such a mentality, wishing it away won’t help.

Reversing the mistakes made in history is a hard task, but we owe it to people of color, people of the LGBTQ+ community, women, and so many more groups oppressed throughout American history to not stand back and watch the continuation of this mentality.

Instead, we need to come together and not rest until everyone in this country can sleep at night feeling safe, equal, and truly at home.


Helen Bass is a 16 year-old Junior in High School who has a passion for writing and for being informed. She says that more than anything she wants to inform others.

#RighttoVote #Slavery #Charlottesville #HelenBass

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