Digital Repository

Signing Ceremony for the Voting Rights Act, 1965

Although the 15th Amendment (1870) guaranteed men the right to vote regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” the use of literacy tests, poll taxes, and white primaries in the South essentially disenfranchised African American voters. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited legal racial segregation in public places while the Voting Rights Act banned discriminatory voting practices intended to disenfranchise African Americans. Johnson signed the bill into law in 1965.

Signing Ceremony for the Voting Rights Act, 1965. Photograph by Yoichi Okamoto. Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum.