Voting Rights for African Americans
Frameworks for America's Past
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Originating Page

The push for black voting rights

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation, but one big issue still remained:
voting rights for African Americans.  In many parts of the South and some
other states, blacks were often unfairly denied the right to register to vote.

 The issue led to one of the most famous events of the Civil Rights
Movement.  Demonstrators set out on foot from Selma, Alabama,
headed for the State Capitol building in Montgomery - a five day walk. 

President Lyndon Johnson helped the marchers

   Violence by Alabama police determined to stop the march forced it to end almost as soon as it started.  One marcher died from his injuries.  President Lyndon Johnson saw the news reports of the incident, and decided to take action.

   President Johnson sent in government officials and military guards to protect the marchers.  The march from Selma to Montgomery began again two weeks later.

   President Johnson also called on Congress to act as quickly as possible to create a new law to protect black voting rights.

They made it, with flags held high
The photo below shows the marchers at the State Capitol building
in Montgomery, Alabama. 
By that time the marchers were
front page news all over the country.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965

Later that same year, Congress did pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The law makes it illegal for any election official to use unfair rules
or tricks to stop any qualified citizen from registering to vote.

The photo below shows President Johnson and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
at the official signing ceremony.  President Johnson gave the pen he used to
Rev. King, in recognition of his role in the Civil Rights Movement.

The photos are from the Library of Congress.
Some have been edited or resized for this page.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright 2010, 2012 by David Burns.  All rights reserved.  As a guide to the Virginia Standards of Learning, some pages necessarily include phrases or sentences from that document, which is available online from the Virginia Department of Education.  The author's copyright extends to the original text and graphics, unique design and layout, and related material.