People of color will be America’s majority by 2045, according to a U.S. Census report. By then they should be in positions of political power. But, if America’s history is any indication, reaching that position of political power will mean legal landmines and bloody battles.

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Gloria Browne-Marshall

The current Presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton may be a precursor to future political battles. The unstated message is America is not great in its current configuration. As America’s racial demographic changes, growing pains will be expressed in many ways. Political nationalism is one.

Although political power can be linked to the majority racial or ethnic group it is not always based on population. The South African White minority controlled the Black African majority. In America, Latinos, Blacks, Asians and Native Americans are diverse groups representing all religions, values, and political beliefs. However, by 2045, people of color should represent the majority of voters, unless laws or other means undermine this future probability.

The rising political power of voters of color may mean a difficult future for some European-Americans. History has shown that a backlash is triggered when people of color begin to achieve political power. When Chinese American laborers, who were sought as laborers after African enslavement ended, began to rise in population a backlash led to the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act. It limited their ability to become citizens and took away their right to vote.

Obstacles placed on Black voters such as photo identification and felony disenfranchisement are similar to the legal measures created when Black men first gained the right to vote with passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. Women were prohibited by law from voting.

Early on, Black male votes alone could change the outcome of an election, such as when Hiram Revels became the first Black U.S. Senator in 1870. Then, hundreds of Black men entered local, state and federal political offices. Then, states passed laws to intentionally undermine those political rights. Laws like the grandfather clause, poll tax and the all-White primary. The NAACP challenged the grandfather clause winning its very first case in the U.S. Supreme Court. Litigation, legislation and protest became the battle cry of the NAACP to defeat these unfair laws and the terrorism that led to the deaths and assaults of voting rights activists. That was then.

Now, a slogan like “Make America Great Again” recalls a past when most people of color and women were fighting for their rights under the constitution.

Latinos are currently the largest minority group in America, according to the census. Today, they are 7.3 percent of voters. By 2060, Latinos will be 28.6 percent of the U.S. population. Their political power should follow. Black and Latino voters, Asian and Native Americans, Progressives in all parties, young voters from Black Lives Matters to the Third Wave should brace-for and embrace their future political power. There is much at stake in the upcoming election. The future of voters of color given demographic changes and its predicted impact can be based on historical responses to such a rise in political such power.

Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian, renowned voting rights activist, minister, community organizer and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom wrote the Foreword for “The Voting Rights War”. “Every great movement creates the need for the next great movement,” he said.

For voters of color, the future is bright, but there will be obstacles.  As history has shown, the rise to political power will be hard fought and brutal. But, if history is the judge, voters of color should prepare for the next great movement as well as a victorious future.