WHY WE NEED THE VOTING RIGHT ACT
After the Compromise of 1877, African American men retained voting rights, but held little
political power in their states. Beginning in the 1890’s, a full-scale attack on African American
civil rights began in the South that led to the legal segregation of all aspects of everyday life,
including public transportation, education and the workplace. African American voting rights
also came under attack through legislation and organized violence, including the horrible act of
lynching, which was used to enforce white supremacy.
The laws to prevent African Americans from voting were complex because they could not
directly violate the Fifteenth Amendment. Among these restrictions was the poll tax, which
required voters to pay an additional tax to vote. It was designed primarily to exclude African
Americans, who were usually too poor to pay the tax, but also excluded many poor whites.
The literacy test was also a common tactic used to prevent African Americans from voting.
During the early 1960’s, African Americans in the South formed groups like the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the
Congress of Racial Equality to demand equality and register African Americans to vote. The
people who participated in this project routinely risked their jobs and were often thrown off
their land if they attempted to vote. Moreover, they risked their lives against the violence of
groups of white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan, which often worked hand in hand
with local police, politicians and the White Citizens’ Councils.
AND TODAY, FUNDED BY PEOPLE LIKE THE KOCH BROTHERS, REPUBLICAN MAJORITIES IN STATE LEGISLATURES CONTINUE PASSING LAWS TO LIMIT VOTING RIGHTS. THE NEED FOR THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT IS AS URGENT TODAY AS IT WAS IN 1965. THING IS, NOW IT NEEDS TO BE APPLIED NATIONALLY, NOT JUST TO THE OLD SOUTH!