Civil Rights & Politics

"We Must Be Independent Men":

The Fifteenth Amendment Parade and Celebration of May 19, 1870

AFRICAN AMERICANS in Baltimore, Md. had contributed significantly to the fall of slavery and the rise of their kind to constitutional equality with other Americans. The crowning achievement in this struggle, without which emancipation might have been empty, was the winning of universal manhood suffrage. The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution allowed a weapon to black men, the vote, with which they hoped to protect the lives and livelihoods of themselves and their families. They gathered on May 19, 1870, with their leaders, friends, and supporters -- 20,000 strong -- to recognize this historical achievement.

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Copyright February 03, 1998 Maryland State Archives