Pondering the Voting Rights Act

Congress must decide whether to extend it anew

"It is the single most important piece of civil rights legislation, other than the constitutional amendments, in the history of the country." So says Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, referring to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. First proposed by Lyndon Johnson, the act was passed overwhelmingly by Congress after a voting rights drive in Selma, Ala., led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had ended in violent clashes between blacks and white police. The landmark law, which was renewed in 1970 and 1975, abolished literacy tests, forbade any other barriers to the...

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