Fifty-six years ago today – surrounded by Democrats and Republicans, activists and leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King, John Lewis, and Rosa Parks – President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law. The Voting Rights Act remains one of the most important pieces of legislation in our nation’s history. It is estimated that in the five years after passage, almost as many Black Americans registered to vote in some southern states as in the 100 years prior to 1965.
On the anniversary of its signing, we honor the generations of Americans who marched, organized, and sacrificed, and we commit to continuing the fight. Today, voting rights are once again under attack. Over the past decade, the Voting Rights Act has been gutted by Supreme Court decisions. As a result, states have passed anti-voter legislation. Just this year, 18 states have passed 30 laws that make it more difficult for Americans to vote, including by limiting vote-by-mail, early voting, and other restrictive measures. We must fight back, and we are.
There are two landmark pieces of federal legislation moving through Congress now that our Administration fully supports—the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Just as leaders recognized 56 years ago, we are in a critical moment, and that is why we must pass these bills.
It will not be easy. But the struggle over voting rights has never been easy. Each generation has fought to expand voting rights, and we owe it to the next generation to fight for every American’s right to vote and have their vote counted.