This article by Ryan Suto is published by Fair Vote. Here is an excerpt:
The Voting Rights Act is intrinsically linked to the events surrounding Bloody Sunday, what preceded them, and what we as a nation should have learned from them. As time passes and as the efforts to repair the Act do not, we risk losing the lessons of Selma and the statutory activation of the 15th Amendment.
The events surrounding the Voting Rights Act began fifty-seven years ago when Jimmie Lee Jackson marched with a small group in support of voting rights in his hometown of Selma, Alabama. During that protest on February 18th, a viciously and tragically-familiar story unfolded: the unarmed Black man was beaten and shot by Alabama state troopers. Jimmie Lee died days later. On March 7, 1965, hundreds gathered again in Selma – in honor of Jackson – to march along Highway 80 toward the state capital of Montgomery, some 54 miles away. The peaceful demand for voting rights was met by the Alabama state police again who brutalized the unarmed and nonviolent Black marchers, including the late John Lewis. This is what we now know as Bloody Sunday. Later, marchers gathered again to complete the trek to Montgomery.
These events are often credited with turning the tide of public opinion in favor of civil rights activists, paving the way for the passage of the Voting Rights Act five months later. But many white Americans stayed firm in their support of the subjugation of Black citizens; when polled by a Harris Survey published in May 1965, only 46% of whites supported the civil rights groups marching for voting rights, with 21% agreeing with the actions of the Alabama government and the rest indicating neither or not sure. In March of 1965 Gallup found that 56% of Americans would disapprove of their clergy engaging in civil rights protests, and in July of that year another Harris Survey found that only 36% of those polled felt that civil rights demonstrations had helped to advance the rights of Black Americans.
Read the full story here.