African Americans Should Only Vote for Democrats: PRO-CON

Beverly Yirenkyi and Angel Benjamin


The Democratic Party isn’t perfect. If asked to present their biggest priority for the upcoming presidential primaries, the answer from party leaders would surely be something about defeating President Trump or unseating the Republican Party in its entirety rather than who the best candidate is. Despite politics having become more concerned with partisanship than policies, African Americans should only vote for Democrats.
Black voters and other minorities have traditionally cast their ballots for Democrats, a practice that began, according to Theodore R. Johnson of The Washington Post, in the “mid-1930s” when African Americans began voting “increasingly for Democrats.” As a result, the African American voting bloc has become a key component in elections for Democrats. In fact, according to Steve Kornacki of NBC News, in the 2016 presidential primaries, African Americans “made up 24 percent of Democratic primary voters.”
The truth is, Democrats need African American voters and they are not wrong to expect their vote. Throughout our nation’s history there have been numerous efforts to prevent African Americans from exercising the right that the Fifteenth Amendment assures them, and it was Democrats and Democratic thinking that helped insure this right. Under the leadership of the Democratic Party and its key elected officials, including Presidents Harry S. Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson, minorities have been granted accessibility and a degree of their natural rights through landmark legislation such as the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965). These two historic moments came during a definitive decade where many did not want to see black citizens progress.
With these pieces of history in mind, as well as the party’s strong social policy agenda, African American voters usually cast their votes for Democrats. African American voters are loyal to the party because it has been the driving force behind legislation for the improvement of a society where African Americans are not afraid to be black.
In today’s political climate, both parties fear losing to the other in a manner that seems greater than in the past. As such, it is important that each party appeal to their “base” and for Democrats that means, in large part, appealing to African American voters. Some may argue that this thinking is too simplistic, that African American voters should not be expected to blindly vote for Democrats. While it is true that one should not make assumptions about a person’s vote, it does not mean that no consideration goes into choosing the right candidate that they most agree with.
After waiting so long to not only reach the ballot box, but to be able to claim their full rights as citizens, African Americans work together to decide the fate of many democratic candidates. It is true that African Americans do not owe anything to Democrats nor should they be expected to hand them their votes. However, in a time when Republicans all too often seem detached from the reality of African American life, it is even more important for African American voters to stick with Democrats.

– Angel Benjamin


The whole purpose for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was to level the playing field between minorities and the majority and extend the freedom of speech that was assured in the First Amendment. This, combined with the Fifteenth Amendment – which guaranteed all people the right to vote – finally put to an end the unjust actions of local governments that both covertly and overtly denied African Americans their natural rights which were allotted to citizens of the United States in our Constitution.
In the creation of the Voting Rights Act, those who fought hard in the civil rights movement saw a success that they had been working towards for generations. The creation of this act, which mandated voting equality, meant that all people would be treated equally as voters in the United States, which finally provided the bootstraps that they had been promised years before through their birth right as citizens.
The Democratic Party originally, according to, was called the Democratic-Republican Party, which had been supported by Federalists, such as Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and George Washington. Already with a clear prejudice against Native Americans, Democratic-Republicans were also known to support the enslavement of Africans/African-Americans. From this party evolved the Democratic Party as we know it today, which is generally attributed to former President Andrew Jackson, which he led under the ideologies of a weakened decentralized government. Jackson opposed reforms including public education, initiated the Trail of Tears, and imposed the restriction of paper currency. As we can see, over time the party changed its stances and ideologies, which is why this should hold true for voters as well. One should not be blindly devoted to a certain party, just as a party should not be committed to only one ideology.
The insinuation that African American Voters are obligated to align themselves with the Democratic Party is morally wrong. In fact, saying that they are beholden to any one party is morally wrong as, historically speaking, all American political parties were originally filled with hatred towards them and biased against them. Despite the progressiveness of Democrats within the last century, it was a Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, who supported the reclamation of their birth-given rights of slaves under the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Democratic Party really only became what it is actually known for today under former President John F. Kennedy, who faced backlash and countless bouts of criticism for his support of the African American community. It was Kennedy who brought worldwide media coverage to the plight of African Americans and the harsh and dehumanizing actions they faced. Including from a police system that utilized systematic oppression tactics instilled into them as young children that abusing their power in order to comply with the status quo was more important. JFK decided to use his power to be the voice of morality and reason and take legal action in order to protect his fellow Americans. Yet it was his show of humanity, not that of the Democratic Party because within both major parties there had been dealignment due to the new socio-political stances they had been taking concerning race.
By no means am I arguing for African Americans to become Republicans, but I am arguing that no one should expect anyone to vote only one way. It is each person’s right to choose a party or a candidate and it should always remain a right and not a forceful action. In our ability to have free will, voters of all races should be able to decide what person they’d like to vote into office regardless of race, gender, or the color of their skin. They should vote not by who they are, but by the power of their words and actions, and whether or not that aligns with their own personal beliefs.

– Beverly Yirenkyi