The US Voting Rights Act of 1965

Witness History

By BBC World Service

The US Voting Rights Act of 1965

Thursday, 15 October

Although African Americans were guaranteed the right to vote by the constitution, many in the south were being denied that right. During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s black voting rights activists had been beaten and killed but it was events in Selma Alabama in 1965 that outraged many Americans. In March 1965 hundreds of peaceful protesters were brutally beaten by Alabama state troops as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The bloodshed in Selma prompted President Lyndon B Johnson to push for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant pieces of legislation ever passed by Congress. The landmark Act was brought in to tackle racial discrimination during elections and to guarantee the rights of African Americans to vote. Farhana Haider has been listening to the archive. Photo President Lyndon Johnson hands a souvenir pen to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr after signing the Voting Rights Bill at the US Capital, Washington DC, August 1965. Credit Getty Images.
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