Today, on February 22, 2017, with the twenty-second article in this series, we honor the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the landmark legislation that “…outlawed the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, including literacy tests as a prerequisite to voting. The key of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is that it was truly transformative for African-American voting rights. In Alabama and other states voter suppression methods, such as grandfather clauses, literacy tests, poll taxes, and other obstacles, had virtually eliminated the Black vote and held Black registrants and voter turn out at a staggeringly low number. The Voting Rights Act set up powerful provisions to give African Americans the rights and the legal tools to combat and overcome these disempowering voter restrictions. In a short period of time (within decades), African-American voter registration had significantly improved and there was a renaissance of African-Americans being elected to office. As you will see in subsequent articles, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been crippled by an assault of new voter suppression laws since 2011 and by the Supreme Court’s decision of Shelby County v. Holder in June 2013.
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