One of America's most important civil rights laws was signed 50 years ago today

Thursday, August 6 marks 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The seminal legislation made racial discrimination in voting illegal. But it also came after years of bloody, and sometimes deadly, confrontation between the African-American and white community.

These dramatic photos depict the dramatic confrontations that preceded the passage of the law, part of which the Supreme Court struck down in 2013.

The seeds of The Voting Rights Act were planted in the decade before it was signed into law. African-Americans began to fight their disenfranchisement by the government during the American Civil Rights movement. Here, Rosa Parks was arrested in 1956 for failing to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus.

Schools were also battle grounds for fighting systemic racism. The 'Little Rock Nine' were a group of nine black students who attempted to enter the racially segregated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. President Dwight. D. Eisenhower deployed federal troops to safely escort the students into the high school.

In June 1963 President John F. Kennedy issued a civil rights speech that contained the origins of the Civil Rights Act. In it, he called for equal access to public areas for all people, regardless of race.

JFK library via wikipedia

The Civil Rights Act was signed into law by President Johnson on July 2, 1964.

The law banned discrimination based on race, religion, gender, and nationality.

The Voting Rights Act was introduced in Congress in March and signed into law on August 6, 1965.

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