LBJ- Signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – August 6, 1965 – CBS Radio – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
August 6, 1965 – LBJ signs into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
President Johnson: Wednesday I will send to Congress a law designed to eliminate illegal barriers to the right to vote.
The broad principles of that bill will be in the hands of the Democratic and Republican leaders tomorrow. After they have reviewed it, it will come here formally as a bill. I am grateful for this opportunity to come here tonight at the invitation of the leadership to reason with my friends, to give them my views, and to visit with my former colleagues.
I have had prepared a more comprehensive analysis of the legislation which I had intended to transmit to the clerk tomorrow but which I will submit to the clerks tonight. But I want to really discuss with you now briefly the main proposals of this legislation,
This bill will strike down restrictions to voting in all elections–Federal, State, and local–which have been used to deny Negroes the right to vote.
This bill will establish a simple, uniform standard which cannot be used, however ingenious the effort, to flout our Constitution.
It will provide for citizens to be registered by officials of the United States Government if the State officials refuse to register them.
It will eliminate tedious, unnecessary lawsuits which delay the right to vote.
Finally, this legislation will ensure that properly registered individuals are not prohibited from voting.
I will welcome the suggestions from all of the Members of Congress–I have no doubt that I will get some–on ways and means to strengthen this law and to make it effective. But experience has plainly shown that this is the only path to carry out the command of the Constitution.
To those who seek to avoid action by their National Government in their own communities; who want to and who seek to maintain purely local control over elections, the answer is simple:
Open your polling places to all your people.
Allow men and women to register and vote whatever the color of their skin.
Extend the rights of citizenship to every citizen of this land.
As a reminder of that milestone event, here is the complete address as the country heard it, on August 6, 1965.