Today marks the 56th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Civil rights groups across the country are honoring the day by reinforcing the intense and concerted efforts made when the law was first passed.
The video below commemorates the anniversary and the legacy of Rep. John Lewis who was instrumental in the passage of the Act.
Before the Voting Act was passed, public outrage over the murders of three CORE volunteers who were participating in a voter registration drive in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and numerous other incidents of racial violence forced Congressional leaders to take action. Discriminatory election practices were fought on a case-by-case basis, but that method allowed states to maintain discriminatory policies by consistently replacing defeated laws.
Broadly, the Voting Rights Act prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race or color. After its passage, the number of registered African-American voters in Southern states rose exponentially and the number of Black elected officials rose in kind. The act was extended in 1970, 1975 and 1982 and finally in 2006 for 25 years.
See the video below of President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act.