Fifty-Sixth Anniversary of President Johnson Signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965 Into Law

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On this day 56 years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson, a proud Texan, signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law. The legislation was a victory made possible by the hundreds of thousands of grassroots voting rights advocates who never gave up their good fight, leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Diane Nash, and the late Congressman John Lewis.

The brave women and men who peacefully crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in pursuit of the right to vote for every American were met with deadly violence from local law enforcement. The violence, captured on national television, forced President Johnson to act. Days later, in a nationally televised speech calling for voting rights legislation, he condemned state leaders and elections officials for denying voters the right to vote based on the color of their skin.

President Johnson instructed states to “Open your polling places to all your people. Allow men and women to register and vote whatever the color of their skin.” Five months later, he signed the strongest piece of pro-democracy legislation in modern history with Martin Luther King Jr. at his side.

Statement of Common Cause Texas Associate Director Stephanie Gómez

Five decades after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, some of President Johnson’s fellow Texans are trying to take us back to the Jim Crow era. These partisan legislators are so intent on stripping away our right to vote that they are trying to pass voter suppression legislation in the middle of the night while most Texans are asleep.

Every voter should ask why certain partisan elected officials want to make it more difficult to participate in the democratic process. The answer is the elected leaders behind this cynical scheme care more about holding on to power than our right to vote.

But this fight is bigger than Texas. Partisan politicians across the country are waging a coordinated attack on our democracy, taking away our freedoms and our right to vote on the issues we care about—a stronger economy, better schools, affordable healthcare, and so much more.

Make no mistake. Attacks like these are an attack on all of us—every Texan, our families, and our communities.

Our democracy cannot afford to wait any longer for our elected leaders to take action. We urge President Biden, Congress, and every elected leader in Texas to follow the lead of our pro-voter Texas state legislators who took the fight for our democracy to our nation’s capital to protect every American’s right to vote.

We must pass the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act without delay.