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Marking The 50th Anniversary Of The Voting Rights Act11:06

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A plaque describes the 1965 Voting Rights Act at the base of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where route 80 crosses the Alabama River, on March 4, 2015 in Selma, Alabama. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)closemore
A plaque describes the 1965 Voting Rights Act at the base of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where route 80 crosses the Alabama River, on March 4, 2015 in Selma, Alabama. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson hands a pen to civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the the signing of the voting rights act as officials look on behind them, Washington, D.C., August 6, 1965. (Washington Bureau/Getty Images)
U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson hands a pen to civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the the signing of the voting rights act as officials look on behind them, Washington, D.C., August 6, 1965. (Washington Bureau/Getty Images)

On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, which made restrictions on access to the ballot box illegal. Those restrictions, such as literacy tests and poll taxes, had been in place since the end of the Civil War.

The new law led to more African-Americans voting and being elected, but some say its legacy is jeopardized today.

The Supreme Court voided a key provision of the law in 2013 and critics say voter ID laws and cutbacks on early voting and easier registration practices signal a return to the days before the Voting Rights Act became law.

Here & Now's Robin Young speaks with Duke University law professor Guy Charles about where we are today with voting rights.

Guest

  • Guy Charles, founding director of the Duke University Law Center on Law, Race and Politics and a professor of law and senior associate dean for faculty research at Duke. He tweets @ProfGuyCharles.

This segment aired on August 6, 2015.

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