The Voting Rights Act
On this day, August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.
Recently, the Supreme Court handed down a decision that impacts the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For historical perspective, the LBJ Library has collected related photographs, videos, and a telephone conversation here.
Photo: LBJ delivering remarks at the signing ceremony for the Voting Rights Act. Behind him is a statue of Abraham Lincoln. 8/6/65.
-from the LBJ Library
On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act (VRA). This draft of the VRA demonstrates a part of the legislative process in which different versions of the bill from the two houses, in this case H.R. 6400 and S. 1564, are reconciled as one bill and then passed by both houses.
Engrossed Copy of H.R. 6400, 7/9/1965, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (ARC 5637803)
On August 6, 1965, The Voting Rights Act was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Act applied a nationwide prohibition of the denial or abridgment of the right to vote on account of race or color. It outlawed discriminatory literacy tests, expanded voting rights for non-English speaking Americans, and appointed Federal examiners to oversee voter registration and elections. Read More
The law had an immediate impact. By the end of 1965, a quarter of a million new African American voters had been registered, one-third by Federal examiners.
In this photo, LBJ signs the Voting Rights Act in the Capitol Rotunda, Washington, DC. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders stand behind him.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965
"This act flows from a clear and simple wrong. It’s only purpose is to right that wrong. Millions of Americans are denied the right to vote because of their color. This law will ensure them the right to vote. The wrong is one which no American, in his heart, can justify. The right is one which no American, true to our principles, can deny."
-President Lyndon B. Johnson
Tomorrow will mark 46 years since LBJ signed the Voting Right Act into law. The Act outlawed the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, including literacy tests as a prerequisite to voting.
Here’s President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders look on. August 6, 1965