Profile America — Monday, March 31st. 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 became law on February 3, 1870. This milestone in civil rights 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. Profile America is in its17th year as a Public Service of the U.S. Census Bureau.