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Table of Contents
On August 6, 1965, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, enabling the right to vote for African-Americans as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It became a permanent federal law and has been amended five times.
See the fact file below for more information on the Voting Rights Act of 1965 or alternatively, you can download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
- In 1870, the 15th Amendment to the Constitution was passed. It states that the citizen’s right to vote shall not be taken away because of race. As a result, African-American participation and representation grew rapidly in the southern states.
- After the Civil War, southern states were under the Reconstruction Era handled by the federal government. When this era ended through the Compromise of 1877, southern states reverted back to using the Jim Crow law.
- The term Jim Crow came from an African-American character in a song from 1832. Soon it became known as the segregation law or Jim Crow law. The law was designed to segregate African-Americans (colored or blacks) and Americans (white) in many aspects of society.
- The infamous Jim Crow law enabled separate waiting areas, ticketing booths, and bus seats for African-Americans in Alabama. Moreover, schools in Florida were segregated.
- In Georgia, burial sites for blacks and whites were not the same. Lastly, prison wardens ensured that apartments and eating areas of white convicts were separated from black convicts.
- White supremacists continued to intimidate and harass African-Americans through poll taxes, grandfather clauses, and literacy tests to prevent them from voting.
- At the beginning of the 1900s, African-Americans started to fight against segregation, but it was not until 1954 that they were heard by many and change started to take effect.
- A series of events, including the case of Brown v. Board of Education, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Birmingham Campaign, and the March on Washington, led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964. Unfortunately, the law focused on issues regarding segregation and job discrimination but failed to address matters on voting rights.
- On January 23, 1964, the 24th Amendment was ratified disallowing the collection of poll taxes to exercise the right to vote.
- Despite the enactment of laws, white supremacists continued to attack African-Americans. In Selma, Alabama reported violent resistance to black people voting was prevalent. As a result, civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lewis organized the Selma Marches condemning issues on black voting.
- On March 25, 1965, Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson sent the Voting Rights bill to Congress and urged them to remove clauses pertaining to race-based voting.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965
- On June 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, also known as VRA, into law prohibiting all kinds of discrimination in voting. It also made any form of racial discrimination punishable by law.
- The VRA contained 17 sections and was divided into two; the general and special provisions. Specifically, southern states that used literacy tests, such as Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, and South Carolina, were tasked with submitting reports on the voting changes. In addition, they were prohibited from imposing any kind of procedure that would impede a person’s right to vote because of race or skin color.
- It was the first time the federal government undertook voting reforms as it was always a state matter.
- The law also stated that any form of coercion and intimidation of a person attempting to vote was illegal.
- The VRA of 1965 was guaranteed under the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. Historically, it was amended five times: In 1970, 1975, 1982, 1992, and 2006.
- In 1969, African-American voter turnout in Mississippi grew from 6% to 59%.
- By 1975, other minorities in the United States, such as American Indians, Asian Americans, and people of Spanish ancestry shared the provisions of the law.
- In 1982, voting assistance was provided to illiterate people and people with disabilities.
Voting Rights Act of 1965 Worksheets
This bundle includes 11 ready-to-use Voting Rights Act of 1965 worksheets that are perfect for students to learn about the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which on August 6, 1965, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law, enabling the right to vote for African-Americans as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
This download includes the following worksheets:
- Voting Rights Act of 1965 Facts
- Famous People
- Seven States
- Major Events in Black History
- The Jim Crow Laws
- Voting Rights Crossword
- Bloody Sunday
- Cast Your Vote
- Cause & Effect
- Photo Ballot
- My Right to Vote
Frequently Asked Questions
Who did the Voting Rights Act of 1965 help?
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was put into effect to stop discrimination against African American voters. Later, other minority groups were included too.
What impact did the Voting Rights Act of 1965 have?
The Voting Rights Act had an immediate impact. In 1965, 250,000 new African American voters were registered. By the end of 1966, only four out of 13 southern states had less than 50 percent of African Americans registered to vote.
Does the Voting Rights Act expire?
The goal of Section 5 was to make sure that any changes to voting in places covered by the section could not be put into effect until approval had been granted. The rule went into effect in 1965 as a temporary measure, lasting for only five years, and applied only to certain states.
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