Date : 1965-August-06
Country/Region : United States of America (USA)
The Voting Rights Act is a milestone piece of civil rights legislation in United States history. On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law. Congress later amended this act five times to expand its protection. This act aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Voting Rights Act guarantees African Americans the right to vote and prohibits racial discrimination in voting.
According to the United States Department of Justice, this Act is considered to be the most effective piece of federal civil rights legislation ever enacted in the United States. It is one of the most far-reaching pieces of civil rights legislation in United States history.
Martin Luther King launched a Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) campaign based in Selma, Alabama, intending to pressure Congress to pass such legislation. The Voting Rights Act was enacted seven months after this campaign. Before enacted this law, African Americans in Selma and other southern towns were intimidated, harassed, and assaulted when they sought to register to vote. Also, they needed to face arbitrary literacy tests and poll taxes. Johnson had outlined the devious ways in which election officials denied African American citizens the vote in his speech to Congress on March 15, 1965. The Voting Rights Act abolished literacy tests and poll taxes designed to disenfranchise African American voters. Also, it gave the authority to take over voter registration in counties with a pattern of persistent discrimination to the federal government.
The Voting Rights Act gave African American voters the legal means to challenge voting restrictions. In the United States, after enacted the act, vastly improved voter turnout of African American voters. In 1970, President Richard Nixon extended the provisions of the Voting Rights Act. Further, he lowered the eligible voting age for all voters to 18.
Category : Legal
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