On this date, forty four years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the “National Voting Rights Act of 1965.” The Act was intended to enforce the fifteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It did so by outlawing disfranchisement practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, including literacy tests. Amazingly, the 1965 Act was ratified some 95 years after the fifteenth amendment was signed into law.
[For those keeping score, here’s the legislative history of the Voting Rights Act of 1965: The Act was sent to Congress by President Johnson on March 17, 1965. The Senate passed the bill on May 11 (after a successful cloture vote on March 23); the House passed it on July 10. After differences between the two bills were resolved in conference, the House passed the Conference Report on August 3, the Senate on August 4. President Johnson signed the Act on August 6, 1965.]