August 7, 2015. Yesterday came and went without fanfare. It was, nevertheless, the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Otherwise known as the Voting Rights Act. Lyndon Johnson was the signing President and the driving political leader of the struggle to enact legislation effectively enfranchising millions of Southern Black folks. It was the most important accomplishment of his administration, which had many notable domestic achievements—no matter how tragically wrong it may have been in Southeast Asia policy. The Act culminated a century of repression of the most basic right of citizens in a democracy, and of course the same century of struggle to achieve it.
The effectiveness of the Act has been dramatically damaged by the outrageous judicial activism of five men whose rhetoric has often belied their perhaps unconscious racism and its accompanying willingness to use their power as Supreme Court Justices to prevent Blacks from achieving their rightful place in American society. The SHELBY COUNTY decision by that Court in 2013 ignored the Constitution and fifty years of congressional approval to strike down the key provision of the Act.
Yet the birthday has come. I am a little pensive but proud that in the long struggle for justice the moment of passage came, much good came from it, and its existence in our history gives hope for the success of the ongoing struggle. Happy Birthday Voting Rights Act!