With the 2016 presidential election in the news, we share this article by Emilye Crosby and Judy Richardson, “The Voting Rights Act: Ten Things You Should Know.” Crosby and Richardson discuss key points in the history of the 1965 Voting Rights Act missing from most textbooks. We also share a segment from Democracy Now! on voting rights today.
Crosby and Richardson write,
Together with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act ended most legal forms of white supremacy. Although this was important, it did not end all forms of racial discrimination, many of which were—and are—embedded in the structures of our society.
Most textbooks approach history through a top-down lens that gives President Lyndon Johnson, along with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., most of the credit for this important legislation. Both men did play a key role. But the Voting Rights Act came into being through intensive organizing and activism spearheaded by the Black community, including people often marginalized and not seen as central to our society.
Watch a news segment about the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act.