Signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. [LBJ Library photo #A1030-19a by Yoichi Okamoto]

Voting Rights Act in Peril on 48th Anniversary

Aug 06, 2013

“Today is a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that has ever been won on any battlefield,” President Lyndon Johnson said on August 6, 1965, when he signed the Voting Rights Act into law.

The VRA quickly became known as the most important piece of modern civil rights legislation and one of the most consequential laws ever passed by Congress. It led to the abolition of literacy tests and poll taxes; made possible the registration of millions of minority voters; forced states with a history of voting discrimination to clear electoral changes with the federal government to prevent future discrimination; and laid the foundation for generations of minority elected officials.

Inside the US Capitol Rotunda, LBJ announced the signing of the bill flanked by a bust of President Lincoln, who exactly 104 years earlier had signed the Confiscation Act freeing Confederate slaves. Among the many civil rights leaders present on that historic day forty-eight years ago was John Lewis, the 25-year-old chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, who had nearly died four months earlier marching for the right to vote in Selma, Alabama. He was the only veteran of the “Bloody Sunday” march to attend the signing ceremony, as historian Gary May notes in his new history of the VRA, "Bending Toward Justice." Lewis remembered that day in August 1965 as “a high point in modern American, probably the nation’s finest hour in terms of civil rights.” read more

Related articles:
On the 48th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, Congress Must Act Quickly to Protect Democracy [Huffington Post]
March for justice continues on anniversary of Voting Rights Act [Southern Poverty Law Center]
Five Reasons for Optimism on the Voting Rights Act’s 48th Anniversary [Colorlines.com]
Biker Pulls Casket to Raise Voting Rights Awareness [AlabamaNews.net]
Gadsden council deadlocks on Voting Rights Act resolution [AL.com]