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50th Anniversary. Voting Rights Act. Awesome!

This is why we do what we do. Isn’t it?

Isn’t this a major part of our task? Create students that are informed and thoughtful citizens as they enrich their communities, state, nation, world, and themselves? Develop active engaged citizens 
that collaborate, contribute, compromise, and participate as an active member of a community?

Voting is essential piece of participatory democracy. Without this sort of input from actual citizens, seriously . . . what’s the point? And the various founding documents and historical interpretations of those documents define what the voting / election process looks like. One ugly piece of American history is that many times, those interpretations excluded huge swaths of citizens from that process.

That is why Voting Rights Act of 1965 was so powerful. Important. Necessary.

Why was it needed?
Because even though voting rights were guaranteed, many in the US worked to deny these rights. Literacy tests, especially in former Confederate states, were designed to exclude African American citizens

.LA lit test

This is one reason why the Voting Rights Acts was needed. Fifty years ago, as President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act, he said:

Today is a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that has ever been won on any battlefield.

It’s why we do what we do.

Of course, Louisiana was not the only location that worked very hard to limit the voting rights of American citizens. The Act changed the cultural and political landscape. And celebrating the Act should be a huge thing. One way to do that?

Make sure that our students understand the process. That they participate in the process. That they work to protect the process. (Because the process is under attack.)

So celebrate the work done by civil rights workers, by those living in areas affected by Jim Crow, and by politicians. And realize that the task of celebrating, participating, and protecting is never finished.

Need some lesson plans to help?

Civil Rights 50

Voting Rights Act, 1965 and Beyond

The 1965 Alabama Literacy Test

Congress Protects the Right to Vote: The Voting Rights Act of 1965

iCivics Voting Rights

Securing the Right to Vote: The Selma-to-Montgomery Story


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