Monday Open Line

The 15th Amendment to the Constitution declared the right 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.” It became law on February 3, 1870. This milestone in civil rights was first exercised on this date that year, though in a decidedly minor electoral matter. Thomas Peterson-Mundy, a former slave, was the first African-American to exercise the franchise, casting a vote in favor of revising the charter for Perth Amboy, New Jersey. He, himself, was elected to a committee to draft the change. In the presidential election in 2012, 17.8 million blacks cast votes, a participation rate of 66.2 percent. Profile America is in its17th year as a Public Service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sunday, March 30th. The first theological school to admit female students for divinity degrees was formed on this date in 1871, when the Boston Theological Seminary merged with Boston University. The first woman matriculated in September of the following year, and the first female bachelor of divinity graduated in 1876. In 1880, the school’s second female graduate, Anna Howard Shaw, became the first woman ordained in the Methodist church. Unlike today, the census of 1870 included a survey of churches. In that census, over 72,000 denominational organizations were counted, along with 63,000 church buildings. And Reverend Shaw’s Methodist denomination numbered over 6.5 million. You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy, from the American Community Survey, at <>.

Saturday, March 29th. While openings of a major department store or a branch of a big-box chain are often welcomed by shoppers and communities, they are also the cause of some concern. Small local businesses face greater competition, yet those small businesses are an outsized engine of economic growth. Additionally, they are important distinguishing features in local communities. That’s why today is Mom and Pop Business Owners Day. In 2008, there were nearly 29 million business firms in the U.S., over 21 million of them without paid employees, and with an additional 3.5 million shops having four or fewer workers. The Census Bureau will update the numbers next year after surveying some 1.75 million enterprises, a large percentage of them in the “mom and pop” category. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <>.