Duquesne Law Review


This article argues that a history of sustained voting rights discrimination against African-Americans has had significant psychological costs. By recognizing these costs, a clearer explanation is provided of why African-Americans have not effectively exercised the franchise. To combat the adverse psychological impact of long-term voting rights discrimination, the article suggests that a variety of measures, ranging from education to the exhortations of persuasive leaders, may be required.

This article is divided into two sections. The first traces the long and persistent history of African-American voting rights discrimination. The historical review indicates that voting rights discrimination still exists and that governmental regulation has not succeeded in stymieing it. The second section of the article suggests that the discrimination has fostered the development of an analog to what psychologists describe as learned helplessness. The article concludes that this analog can and should be used as an explanatory device when describing voting rights inequality and should be expressly considered in strategies aimed at achieving true voting rights equality.

First Page


Included in

Law Commons