Once the slaves were freed - White Americans became nervous! Because now the slaves were freedman - citizens of this country! With that comes a lot of rights, freedom, benefits, and responsibility! The biggest thing that scared Americans is the black man's ability to vote. Before the Civil War ended the Repunlicans pushed through Congress the Civil War Amendments. There big fear was once the Southern States were readmitted they would reinstitute slavery. These Amendments would prevent that!
The 15th Amendment gave black men the right and power to vote. Very quickly people became scared, and started to try to scare and intimated black men from voting! They starting employing tactics to scare blacks away from the voting polls! Two of those tactics were literacy tests and poll taxes. It took the Civil Rights Movement to get rid of these two things. They were employed for almost 100 years!
Of course white Americans were grandfathered in. They said if your grandfather was not a slave then poll taxes and literacy tests did not apply to you. Poll taxes were a fee you had to pay before you could vote. This is mind boggling to me!? I cannot imagine having to pay before I voted! This goes against very thing America stands for! Literacy tests were American Government tests you had to pass by 100% before you could vote! These tests were HARD! In college I had a professor give the class a take home test. It was so difficult! I could only complete half the test, and I had access to any book and the internet. I will never forget what happened the next day in class!
The professor asked how the test was? We all started to complain! The professor said don't worry about it! This was an exercise, and the same test the state of Alabama used. A black person in the 1950s would have to pass it by 100% before they could vote! I will never forget that! I got goose bumps! I experienced first hand how unfair it was! There is a scene in Selma that provides a great visual!
This is why voting became a landmark in the Civil Rights Movement! The system became so unfair and cruel! They finally get their victory in 1968 with The Voting Rights Act. The American government cannot employ any tactics that would prevent anyone from voting for any reason!