The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting.It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the height of the American Civil Rights Movement on August 6, 1965, and Congress later amended the Act five times to expand its protections. Designed to enforce the voting rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Act resulted in the mass enfranchisement of racial minorities throughout the country, especially in the South. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Act is considered to be the most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever enacted in the country.
Download the complete Minnesota History of the Voting Rights Act.
The path to the voting rights act of 1965:
Text of the letter from Joseph E. Karth (above right):
The Honorable Nicholas deB. Katzenbach
The Attorney General
Department of Justice
In view of the instances of shameful police brutality and violations of civil liberties in Indianola, Mississippi and Selma, Alabama, I strongly urge you to launch immediately a full investigation and to draft a plan of action to protect innocent people from heinous storm-trooper tactics.
Certainly the Federal Government has a solemn obligation to protect citizens in their peaceful struggles to win civil rights for the Negroes of Mississippi and Alabama.
I look forward to your taking forceful leadership in the effort to bring to justice those responsible for the gross violation of the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States and of other guarantees.
Joseph E. Karth