The Voting Rights Act of 1965

Topics: Lyndon B. Johnson, United States, United States Constitution Pages: 4 (1201 words) Published: September 18, 2008
Most change can be caused by people or something with significant value. Occasionally people forget that change can also be caused by pieces of paper. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a law passed that primarily gave African Americans the right to vote without having to take any sort of literacy tests. African Americans were widely ignored in voting rights because they were forced to take literacy tests to be eligible to vote. Having this event in our nation’s civil rights movement was a landmark that allowed the other half of our nation’s voice to be heard. “The Voting Rights Act itself has been called the single most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever passed by Congress.”(Laney 65)

Before this act was passed there was a large history of voting and racial related discrimination. Before the Civil War the United States Constitution did not provide specific protections for voting. Qualifications for voting were matters which neither the Constitution nor federal laws governed. At that time, although a few northern states permitted a small number of free black men to register and vote, slavery and restrictive state laws and practices led the franchise.

The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, granted citizenship to all people “born or naturalized in the United States,” and includes the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. This amendment failed to explicitly prohibit vote discrimination on racial grounds

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In 1870 the 15th Amendment was ratified, which provided specifically that the right to vote shall not be denied or abridged on the basis of race, color or previous condition of servitude. This superseded state laws that had directly prohibited black voting. As a result, in the former Confederate States, where new black citizens in some cases comprised majorities of the eligible voting population, hundreds of thousands -maybe one million - recently-freed slaves registered to vote. Black candidates began for the...
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