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Voting Rights Act of 1965

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. This legislation sought to protect millions of minority Americans from discrimination.


After the Civil War, Congress ratified the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, known as the Reconstruction Amendments. They ended slavery, extended rights to former slaves, and granted African American men the right to vote. However, shortly after, legislation swept through southern state legislatures attempting to deny minorities those rights. This period, known as the Jim Crow era, saw a wave of restrictive voter registration and election laws like literacy tests, poll taxes, and segregation. After nearly a century and at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in 1965. It sought to reverse the mountain of existing discriminatory voting laws and prohibit legislatures from passing new ones.