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Voting: A Walk Through U.S. History

A group activity on the denial of voting rights in the U.S. and what happens when some people are left out.  Intended to illustrate how important it is for everyone to vote.

This group activity invites participants to listen to the voices of people who have been 'cut out of the picture' at different times in our nation’s history, and then to discuss the effects of the denial of voting rights.

The pictures for this activity are in separate pdf files (due to their large size.)
We suggest you choose 5 or 6 pictures appropriate to your audience.

Available pictures are: 

Also download the text and notes for this activity.

This overview and the directions are also included in the text and notes file.


Total time for this activity is about 30 minutes

  • Post the selected pictures around the room with enough space between each one so that the group may gather around the photo.
  • Introduce the activity as follows:

    "In the history of the United states many different groups of people have been denied the right to vote. For these citizens, participation in the electoral process was achieved through years of struggle. Today we are going to take a brief walk through history to remember some of the people who--at one time or another--were kept from voting."

  • Ask the group to walk to each picture, look at the picture and listen to the explanation. Read the text that goes with the picture.

Note: If you have a large group, consider posting the appropriate text under each picture, and asking the group to walk around the room, looking at each picture (in no particular order) and reading the text.

  1. Why do you think certain groups of people were kept from voting?
  2. What effect do you think the denial of voting rights to these groups had on the United States?
  3. How do you think the denial of voting rights affected these people and their families?
  4. Are there any people who are denied the right to vote today?
  5. What is the effect on the United States when large numbers of people do not vote?

After about 10 minutes, ask each group to share some of their thoughts with the large group.


You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the pdf resources. If you don't have it on your computer, you can download it for free.