History of the Voting Rights Act of 1965…

Biden has signed an Executive Order to Promote Voting Access. He’s also pushing Congress to:
- Pass HR-1 “For the People Act”, making it easier to vote
- Pass HR-4 “Voting Rights Advancement Act”, to restore the original
VRA (“Voting Rights Act” of 1965).

Here’s the history of the VRA:

1963:
- Selma AL has 29,500 residents, mostly black, but voters are 99%
white

1964:
- Congress passes “Civil Rights Act”, but there’s still lots of
voter suppression, like an injunction prohibiting public
gatherings of more than 2 people
- Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) gets involved

1965:
- For 7 weeks, Blacks tried to register to vote
- 2000 arrested for contempt of court, parading without a permit, etc.
- Forced to stand in line for hours before failing a “literacy” test
- Unarmed 26-year-old, Jimmie Lee Jackson, beaten and shot
- 54-mile march planned, Selma to state capitol Montgomery
- March 7, 1965: “Bloody Sunday”
— Edmund Pettus Bridge (named for Confederate brigadier general,
Grand Dragon of Alabama Ku Klux Klan, and U.S. senator)
— Marchers beaten, whipped, tear gassed
— Broke John Lewis’s skull
— Beat Amelia Boynton unconscious
— Newspaper photos went viral
- March 9, marched again, stopped again, MLK led prayer, turned back,
white mob beat Unitarian Universalist minister James Reeb to death
- March 15, Lyndon Johnson (LBJ) addresses nation on TV
- March 17, LBJ submits VRA to Congress
- March 21, AL governor George Wallace refused to protect them, LBJ
stepped in, marched again, 10 miles/day, protected by 1,900 National
Guard, FBI agents, and federal marshals
- March 25, arrived at Alabama State Capitol w/25,000 people, MLK
speaks, Viola Liuzzo murdered by KKK
- August 6, Johnson signs VRA (Voting Rights Act of 1965)
— Federal supervision of voter registration in minority districts
— No regulations, laws or tests to deny the right to vote

2013 (48 years later):
- Supreme Court guts VRA in Shelby County v. Holder
- States resume voter suppression

2021:
- Legislatures in 43 states plan to restrict voting
- GA to outlaw giving water to voters as they wait for hours in line

More details in Heather Cox Richardson’s daily newsletter:
- https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/march-7-2021

Enjoy,
— Fred

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