Relevancy Of The Voting Rights Act In Modern Times

1743 words - 7 pages

Ratified in 1868, the fourteenth amendment guarantees equal protection of all persons under the law. In the 1960’s though, African Americans were still being discriminated against because of the color of their skin. After the broadcast of 600 peaceful African Americans being attacked and beaten after attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, President Lynden Johnson decided it was time to create some legislation to prevent incidences such as this from happening in the future. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 have been hailed as some of “the most far-reaching bills on civil rights in modern times” (Schmidt et. al. 2010, 98). At that time in history, they were exactly what the country needed to stop itself from the discriminatory practices that were so wide spread. Both have evolved over time, being altered and continually renewed by Congress. In recent years, especially since the election of Barack Obama, the necessity for the continued provisions included in the Voting Rights Act particularly, have come into question. The effects of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act have been apparent, such as increasing drastically the amount of minority voters and elected officials, but they also have limitations, such as overseeing the districts which are pegged at historically segregated communities, which makes one consider whether an update of legislature to fit our more progressive racial attitudes is in order.
Two events in the 1960’s were the main reasons that President Kennedy’s team drew up and sent to Congress a Civil Rights Act bill: the Birmingham campaign and George Wallace’s refusal to desegregate the University of Alabama. The Birmingham campaign consisted of sit-ins at schools and lunch counters, marches, and other non-violent demonstrations, led largely by Martin Luther King. One turning point in the campaign was when African-American students gathered in Kelly Ingram Park to walk across the park. Hoses and dogs were let loose on the crowd, and the media captured it. After the pictures and news stories were published, many people’s opinions on the campaign swayed. The second event that prompted Kennedy to move forward with the civil rights act was George Wallace’s refusal to integrate the University of Alabama. Then Governor of Alabama, he stood outside the University, refusing to let two African-American students inside until the National Guard was sent in. Feeling as though something needed to be done, Kennedy stepped in.
The day the Senate passed the Civil Rights Act bill, it was on the front page of the New York Times. The bill had been passed by a vote 73 to 27, with 46 Democrats and 27 Republicans voting for it, and 21 Democrats and 6 Republicans voting against it. Although it had not yet passed the House, the chairman and ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee said that they would accept the Senate version of the bill which “With the support of these two...

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