Voting Rights Act Marks 40th Anniversary

President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act. i i

hide captionPresident Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act, as lawmakers and other dignitaries look on, Aug. 6, 1965.

Robert Knudsen/LBJ Library
President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act.

President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act, as lawmakers and other dignitaries look on, Aug. 6, 1965.

Robert Knudsen/LBJ Library

Forty years ago, Congress decided that existing anti-discrimination laws were not enough to overcome racism in the voting process. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. The law helped to tumble the segregationist status quo that kept black voters from the polls.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Forty years ago this week, the Voting Rights Act became law. That document was signed after one of the civil rights movement's more dramatic events. In March 1965, state troopers attacked protesters near Selma, Alabama. That day became known as Bloody Sunday, and it galvanized the nation. On August 6th, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed new voting protections for African-Americans.

(Soundbite of 1965 speech)

President LYNDON B. JOHNSON: They came in darkness and they came in chains, and today we strike away the last major shackle of those fierce and ancient bonds.

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