On Aug. 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law. This historic moment was due in no small part to the efforts of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the country’s first and foremost civil rights legal organization. At a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act at the White House, LDF President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill will discuss current threats to the Voting Rights Act even as the nation celebrates its great achievements.
Ifill will be joined by two LDF clients in recent and significant voting rights cases, Ernest Montgomery and Imani Clark. Montgomery lost his City Council seat in Shelby County, Alabama after his district was redrawn to dilute the voting power of American Americans. When the Department of Justice objected, the County challenged the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder. LDF represented Montgomery in defending the Act. Clark is a college student at Prairie View A&M, whose student identification did not satisfy Texas’s stringent Voter ID law. LDF represents Clark in Veasey v. Perry, the Texas voter ID challenge. Just yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that Texas’s voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act.
LDF litigated the first voting rights cases of the 20th Century, including Smith v. Allwright that eliminated the white primary. After Bloody Sunday in 1965, LDF represented the Selma marchers, securing a federal court order to allow the march to proceed. The Voting Rights Act represented the promise of equal participation in our democracy. The Act immediately removed barriers, such as literacy tests, poll taxes and voucher requirements that had long kept African Americans from even participating in our political system. Its strong enforcement over 50 years has enfranchised communities of color and allowed voters of color to elect candidates of their choice. LDF has litigated dozens of voting rights cases, including many seminal cases before the U.S. Supreme Court seeking robust interpretations of the Act. LDF has worked on every Congressional reauthorization of the Act and secured strong bipartisan support. In cities and towns across the country, LDF has relied on the Voting Rights Act to protect the right to vote, considered preservative of all other rights, for countless individuals.
WHERE: White House
WHEN: Thursday, August 6 at 2 – 5:30 PM, the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act
About the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF):
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is not a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) although LDF was founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. Since 1957, LDF has been a completely separate organization. Please refer to us in all media attributions as the “NAACP Legal Defense Fund” or “LDF”.