40th Anniversary of the 1965 Voting Act Remembered in Connection with the Horrors in Selma at the Edmund Pettus Bridge
Bloody Sunday 1965 is Selma, Alabama's defining moment. It is the day America peered into the Old South's soul and saw a scene of such unimaginable ugliness that stunned disbelief was the natural response. Even those who were on the Edmund Pettus Bridge—who were scattered like so many bowling pins by badge-wearing goons on horseback—still have a hard time grasping how a pleasant, peaceful protest suddenly turned into a bloodbath.
The carnage on the Edmund Pettus Bridge (miraculously no one was killed) shocked the nation and led to passage of the Voting Rights Act. Signed by Lyndon Johnson 40 years ago this month, that measure put teeth into the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed blacks a right to vote that most of the South had never bothered to honor. The act gave the Feds tools to challenge the endless gambits used to keep blacks away from the polls, and it required "covered jurisdictions," primarily in the South, to get federal approval before changing voting rules or practices.
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