The Big Ten - Crucial Events in the Modern Civil Rights Movement - Voting Rights Act of 1965

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"Voting Rights Act of 1965", The immediate impact of the passage of the Voting Rights Act, United States Commission for Civil Rights, Public Domain.

In the aftermath of Bloody Sunday, civil rights groups sent a nationwide call for clergy of all faiths to join them in Selma.  President Lyndon B. Johnson contacted Alabama Governor George Wallace and urged him to use the Alabama Guard to protect the marchers.  In the meantime, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) applied to a federal court for permission to hold another march.  Instead they were enjoined from marching.  The group had never defied a federal court order, but as a face saving measure, they again gathered a number of demonstrators and began marching.  Once again they were met by law enforcement officials and ordered to turn around.  Martin Luther King and others led the marchers in prayer, and the marchers departed.

Many marchers were confused; young activists in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating (SNCC) were especially angry, thinking they had been sold out by Dr. King and the federal government.  In a televised presentation President Johnson condemned both segregation and the violence against peaceful demonstrators, and announced that he had sent a voting rights bill to Congress. 

The federal court lifted the injunction against the march and for a third time hundreds of demonstrators set out for Montgomery, Alabama.  Four days and fifty miles later, they reached the Capitol.  Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and on August 6 with much fanfare and celebration, President Johnson signed the Act into law.

Original Release: May 28, 2015

Updated Last Revision: Jun 02, 2016

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