SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Back in 1960, a young Amos Johnson Jr. was studying theology in Berkeley, Calif.
It was the first time he was old enough to vote. Although he could cast a ballot without issue here in California, African Americans in southern states faced plenty of challenges.
"There were so many Jim Crow laws to keep blacks from voting in the south, all the civil rights in the south were really diminished," said Johnson.
He describes the years leading up to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which bans racial discrimination in voting, as a time filled with protest and frustration around the country.
"It was a chaotic time, it was a time of great distress," he said.
For the longtime San Diego pastor, the right to vote isn't something he's ever taken for granted. He says since being able to cast a ballot for himself, he's voted in every single election he could.
"I think that's where the power is. Voting is a real privilege, in my mind, it's an obligation if you want change," Johnson said.