Tuesday, February 3, 2009

15th Amendment then and now....

On Februray 3 in Black History...15th Amendment, baseball and Eric Holder

In 1870, Congress ratified the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution:
  • Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
  • Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Even though this amendment was not fully realized until the Voting Rights Act in 1965, it was an important step in voting rights for African-Americans.
On March 31, 1870, Thomas Mundy Peterson became the 1st African American to vote. He was a school custodian in New Jersey and became the city's first African-American to hold elected office and the first African-American to sit on a Jury. The school he worked in was later named for him.

In 1886, the Southern League of Colored Base Ballists became the first Negro league. It was not until 1920 that an organized African-American league (the Negro National League) survived a full season. The second league formed in 1923 (Eastern Colored League), and the following year the Kansas City Monarchs defeated the Philadelphia Hilldales in the first "colored" World Series. Many great teams played in the Negro Leagues, as did many great players. Some students of baseball consider James "Cool Papa" Bell the smoothest and fleetest outfielder ever to play and that Josh Gibson, who averaged.362 over his 16-year career, was the best offensive threats of the times. Of course, no list could be complete without the legendary pitcher Leroy "Satchel" Paige, the greatest pitcher of the Negro Leagues.

In 2009, 139 years later, Eric Holder was sworn in as the first African-American Attorney General of the United States.
Holder was appointed by President Clinton to serve as the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C. in 1993 becoming the first African-American to serve in the position. During his four-year term, he created a domestic violence unit, a community prosecution project, and a program for restricting gun laws. In 1997, Holder made history yet again when President Clinton nominated him to be the deputy attorney general and became the first African-American elected to the position, as well as the highest-ranking black person in law enforcement in the history of the United States at that time.
He was also featured in the 2007 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, and in 2008 he was named by The National Law Journal as one of "The Most 50 Influential Minority Lawyers in America" as well as by Legal Times for being one of the "Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Past 30 Years."

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