This Day in History

Aug. 6, 1965: Voting Rights Act

Time Periods: 1961
Themes: Voting Rights, African American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights

On Aug. 6, 1965, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law. “Voting Rights History Two Centuries of Struggle” offers a timeline of two centuries of voting rights struggles. 

The decades of organizing and sustained resistance are left out of the traditional narrative. Read The Voting Rights Act: Ten Things You Should Know.

The Sugar Shack | Zinn Education Project

African American voters in rural Wilcox Cty., Ala., able to vote for the first time after the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, line up in front of a polling station at The Sugar Shack. May 1966.

Aug. 6 is also the anniversary of the less known yet in many ways more pivotal event in 1964 that played a major role in securing the 1965 legislation.  The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party State Convention with 2,500 people in Jackson, Mississippi. Howard Zinn said:

It was probably as close to a grassroots political convention as this country has ever seen.

In 2020, historian Martha Jones tweeted about the 55th anniversary of the VRA and the Black women who worked to make it a reality. Jones is the author of Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All.

Read the full thread.