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5 Quotes From Then-Lawmakers and Leaders on Voting Rights Act of 1965

By    |   Wednesday, 02 Mar 2016 07:06 PM

When the Voting Rights Act was passed on Aug. 5, 1965, it ushered in a new era for rights, particularly the rights of African-American and minority voters.

Coming on the heels of “Bloody Sunday,” in which peaceful protesters marching in Selma, Alabama, were attacked by state troopers, Congress knew that it must act swiftly. Former United States President Lyndon B. Johnson called on Congress a week later to pass new legislation to “guarantee every American’s right to vote,” according to The New York Times.

“Open your polling places to all your people. Allow men and women to register and vote whatever the color of their skin. Extend the rights of citizenship to every citizen of this land,” said Johnson.

“Their cause must be our cause, too. Because it’s not just Negroes, but really it’s all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.”

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The Voting Rights Act was passed through Congress, and former President Johnson signed it into law a day later.
http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/selma-montgomery-march

Here are five quotes given by then lawmakers and leaders about the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965:

1. “Today is a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that has ever been won on any battlefield. Yet to seize the meaning of this day, we must recall darker times.”
http://millercenter.org/president/speeches/speech-4034
Former President Lyndon B. Johnson, during the signing

2. “(The act is) a great step forward in removing all of the remaining obstacles to the right to vote.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

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3.
“This act flows from a clear and simple wrong. Its only purpose is to right that wrong. Millions of Americans are denied the right to vote because of their color. This law will ensure them the right to vote. The wrong is one which no American, in his heart, can justify. The right is one which no American, true to our principles, can deny.”
Former President Lyndon B. Johnson, during the signing

4. “As the president said, this act and its enforcement open the gates. Walking through them is up to individual Negroes throughout the South. But we would hope in any event, that it is now possible for a good many thousand Negro citizens to be registered by the end of the year.”
Former U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, Fitchburg Sentinel, Aug. 7, 1965

5. “The state of Mississippi has been making an honest and sincere effort to handle this situation itself. I think all states affected by the bill should be afforded an opportunity to do this.
Former Mississippi Attorney General Joe Patterson, The Milwaukee Journal, Aug. 7, 1965

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When the Voting Rights Act was passed on Aug. 5, 1965, it ushered in a new era for rights, particularly the rights of African-American and minority voters. Here are five quotes given at the time by then-lawmakers and leaders about the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.
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2016-06-02
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