The Voting Rights Act

On this day, August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act, which prohibited voting discrimination against minorities.

Amendment 15 of the U.S. Constitution, ratified February 3, 1870, reads:

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

“The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

Even though this amendment provides for equal voting rights, many were still being denied those rights ninety-five years after the amendment became part of the Constitution. Thus LBJ signed the “Voting Rights Act” which was deemed “appropriate legislation” to “enforce” the Fifteenth Amendment.

President Johnson wanted to create what he called “The Great Society.” A society where the promise of the Declaration of Independence, that “all men are created equal,” applies to everyone.

LBJ believed he was fulfilling that promise with the following measures: The Voting Rights Act, Medicaid, Federal Aid for Education, Environmental Protection laws, Food Stamps, Head Start, NPR, The Arts and Humanities Act, The Public Broadcasting System, Consumer Protection Laws, and The Civil Rights Act. These measures, created during the LBJ years, are still with us today.

When LBJ signed The Civil Rights Act he said,

“There goes the south for a generation.”