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 was ratified on February 3, 1870. The new, affirmed civil right 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. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <www.census.gov>.