Cumberland Times-News


August 2, 2010

Let’s celebrate the Voting Rights Act of 1965

— This year marks the 45th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act — one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation to be enacted during the tumultuous 1960s.

The Voting Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on Aug. 6, 1965, was a result of the continued and egregious denials of the voting rights of African American citizens and other minorities across our nation.

The right to vote is one of the most sacred rights in the U.S. Constitution. Despite the fact that the 15th amendment had enfranchised African Americans, throughout the South a variety of methods were used to deny African Americans and other minorities their legal rights.

From intimidation to physical violence to literacy tests and polls taxes, African Americans were routinely denied their constitutional right to vote.

Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, President Johnson made passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act(VRA) a priority.

Passage of the VRA gave teeth to the 15th amendment and it required the federal government to oversee voter registration and election changes in areas that had historically suppressed minority voting or where registration or turnout had been less than 50 percent in the 1964 Presidential election.  

The effects were dramatic. By 1968, nearly 60 percent of African Americans were registered to vote in Mississippiand other Southern states showed similar improvement.

It also gave a boost over the years to the election of African Americans to elective office at the local, state and national levels.

Between 1965 and 1990, the number of African-American legislators and members of Congress rose from two to 160.

Unfortunately, efforts to disenfranchise voters still persist and Maryland has not been immune from such attempts.

In 2002, flyers were handed out in Baltimore City with the wrong Election Day, also warning voters to pay their parking tickets before voting.

Similar problems were reported in Alabama, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia.  

During the 2006 election, flyers were distributed in predominately African-American neighborhoods falsely claiming that the candidates had been endorsed by their opponent’s party and by prominent figures who had actually endorsed another candidate.

We must remain constantly vigilant to efforts to deny or infringe upon the rights of all Americans to vote.

In 2006, as a House member, I voted for the reauthorization of the VRA to strengthen these protections.  

As we pause to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we must take a moment to appreciate what we have accomplished.

Voting is a fundamental right and the laws of our nation provide protections that make it possible for every American to exercise that right.

U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md.

Text Only
  • Life-saving law Life-saving law

    Not many pieces of legislation to come out of Annapolis can be described as a matter of life or death. But the CPR law signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley is just that.
    Known as Brenna’s Law, the legislation requires that all Maryland high schoolers will be required to complete CPR training as part of the graduation requirement.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cat sanctuary could use help with veterinarian bill

    Dawn’s Cat Sanctuary, Fort Ashby, W.Va., recently rescued 11 cats and one kitten from a home in Keyser, W.Va.

    April 24, 2014

  • Street flowers Street flowers

    Walk along Frostburg’s Main Street in the spring and summer and one can’t miss the beautiful floral arrangements that adorn the lampposts.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • President and Obamacare: Who needs Congress?

    Being a fellow from a small town like Cumberland I don’t always really understand what’s going on in Washington. But I have watched a few houses being built over the years. I even helped some with one house, but my brother fired me from that work pretty quickly, mainly because it was his house being built.

    April 22, 2014

  • Sweet Success Business Forum this evening in Frostburg

    As a member of the Frostburg Business and Professional Association (FBPA), I am pleased to inform the community of the “Sweet Success” event sponsored by the city of Frostburg and our organization.

    April 22, 2014

  • First base First base

    The idea of spending up to $7,500 for a study about the possibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area should at least be allowed to reach first base.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • You can help United Way reach its goal

    The United Way of Allegany County campaign for 2013-14 will end April 30 and to date has raised more than $430,000, which is over 86 percent of its goal. But there is still $70,000 to be raised in a very short time.

    April 21, 2014

  • Support Canal classrooms with tax-deductible gift

    While your April 17 article (“Park Service opens Canal classrooms,” Page 1A) described this exciting program accurately, your readers may be wondering how they can help support this new educational opportunity for school children in Allegany County.

    April 18, 2014

  • Ivan Hall story brings back memories of a unique man

    I enjoyed Mike Sawyers’ Ivan Hall story. It was well written and brought back some wonderful memories of my Cumberland days and especially, an unique man.

    April 18, 2014

  • It’s a secret It’s a secret

    Could someone enlighten us about why not even the names of the two entities bidding on development of the Footer Dye Works building can be divulged?
    A Times-News article about the bids included an explanation from a lawyer for the attorney general’s office about the need to keep the names and other information secret at this time. Despite that, the logic of not divulging at least a little more information escapes us.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo