We Can't Stand it Anymore
"If your voice or vote can be of service now is the time to use it."
-Mrs. E. Jackson
Mrs. E. Jackson of Brooklyn, NY, wrote these words in a March 8, 1964 letter (shown in the upper left hand corner) to the House Judiciary Committee the day after Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. She was affected by the scenes of violence and brutality reported on the news, and, like many Americans, felt it was time for the government to step in and affect change.
Although the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870 asserted that the right to vote should not be denied on account of race, almost one hundred years later, that vision was still unrealized. After the Amendment's passage, many Southern states enacted strict voter eligibility laws - including literacy tests and poll taxes - all roadblocks to the right to vote.
An organized civil rights movement in the 1960s pushed Congress for legislation that would protect the right to vote once and for all. The Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, prohibited states from imposing any "voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure ... to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color."