The 40th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act
For many younger Americans who may have noted in passing short news reports about the commemorations in Atlanta and elsewhere of the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, this may seem like a bit of ancient if important history.
For southerners of any race who were old enough to know what was going on 40 years ago, this event was as cataclysmic as its more famous antecedents, Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The drive for voting rights exposed the fundamental anti-Americanism of Jim Crow society even more decisively than the struggle against segregated schools, buses and lunch counters. For all its immorality, segregation could hide behind the fig-leaf of "separate-but-equal," and the pretense that African-Americans were somehow protected from the violence that might accompany abrogation of the South's cultural codes. But the denial of the right to vote could only be defended by lies, or an open rejection of the U.S. Constitution.
Over at TPMCafe, I've done a post raising some questions about the future of the Voting Rights Act, but here, I simply want to honor it--and its architects, from John Lewis to Lyndon Johnson--as one of the key developments in the moral redemption of my native region. --