History of the Civil Rights movement By Cristina Vignone
Voting rights have a complicated history in the United States. The Fourteenth Amendment (1868) stated that “[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside,” overruling the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision to deny Constitutional protection and citizenship to slaves and their descendants. Two years later in 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, which stated that “[t]he right of U.S. citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Yet soon after these Reconstruction-era amendments, the implementation of literacy tests, poll taxes, grandfather clauses and Jim Crow laws encouraged primarily by Southern Democrats denied black citizens their right to vote. Such race-based intimidation tactics continued to disenfranchise black Americans through the twentieth century.
On August 6, 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed, thereby “correct[ing] the failings of prior legislation…[by presenting] a single, unified program to achieve voting equality.”
It stated that
No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.
Civil rights organizations celebrated the landmark legislation, which ensured that within four years “approximately three-fifths of southern black adults had registered to vote.” Political participation in the south increased dramatically: “In Mississippi, black registration leaped from 6.7 percent in 1964 to 59.4 percent in 1968. Similarly, black enrollment in Alabama jumped from 23 percent to 53 percent.”
Presented here are the Voting Rights Act and President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Address on Voting Rights, evidence of the twentieth century commitment to proving that “It is wrong—deadly wrong—to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country.”
Voting Rights Act:
President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Address on Voting Rights:
 Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/14thamendment.html
 Dred Scott v. Sandford
 Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/15thamendment.html
 David J. Garrow, “The Voting Rights Act in Historical Perspective,” The Georgia Historical Quarterly, Vol. 74, No. 3 (Fall 1990), pp. 377-398. 379. Voting Rights Act of 1965, Duke Law Journal, Vol. 1966, No. 2 (Spring, 1966), pp. 463-483. 466-7.
 Ibid, 468.
 “Voting Rights Act,” America’s Historical Documents,http://www.archives.gov/historical-docs/document.html?doc=18&title.raw=Voting%20Rights%20Act
 Jonathan Birnbaum and Clarence Taylor, eds., A. Civil Rights Since 1787: A Reader on the Black Struggle (New York: New York University Press, 2000), 545.
 “President Lyndon B. Johnson's Special Message to the Congress: The American Promise March 15, 1965,” Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum National Archives and Records Administration, http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/johnson/archives.hom/speeches.hom/650315.asp.