To the Editor:

During the Civil War, more than 200,000 African Americans served in teh U.S. Army to fight for an end to slavery.

Within five years of the war’s end, slavery was abolished and black men had the legal right to vote under the 15th Amendment.

The first enslaved Africans in English-occupied North America were brought to Virginia more than 400 years ago.

Despite constant adversity throughout American history, African American culture and heritage strengthened each generation.

This year marks two significant anniversaries impacting voting rights for African Americans.

In 1870, 150 yers ago, the 15th Amendment was ratified: the right of citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged, on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

2020 is also the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment securing women’s right to vote.

These are momentous anniversaries: the 2020 theme for African Americans and the vote exploring 150 years (and more) of the struggle to ensure that African Americans are able to fully participate in American democracy.

As the nation recognizes the achievements, contributions and historical journeys of African Americans, we can highlight the history and cultural heritage shared within our parks and in communities through the work of programs and partners.

Fran Smith

New Milford