How the Voting Rights Act Affected Congress

A graphic shows how the legislation has influenced the diversity of today's Congress.

Posted:
 
congressionalblackcaucus080713575jd
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

The Voting Rights Act was signed into law 48 years ago this week. The landmark legislation set out to end blatant voter suppression against black people while increasing the diversity of political representation.

A Huffington Post report and graphic shows how effective the VRA was in that mission. When the law was passed in 1965, there were only five black members of Congress. Now there are 44, along with 38 Latinos, 13 Asian Americans (or Pacific Islanders) and two Native Americans.

This year the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the VRA, allowing states to pass laws that critics say suppress voters.

Soon after the court's 5-4 decision came down, six southern states took advantage of their newfound freedom by embracing voting policies that could not or did not pass muster under the previous law.

Meanwhile, more than 30 states have passed voter ID laws in recent years, in what critics portray as a veiled attack on the voting rights of minorities.

Among the 44 black members of the current Congress is John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who was brutally beaten while marching for civil rights in 1965. In a June speech after the Supreme Court's decision on the Voting Rights Act, he described the ruling as "a dagger" in the heart of the landmark law.

Read more at the Huffington Post.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.  

Comments
The Root encourages respectful debate and dialogue in our commenting community. To improve the commenting experience for all our readers we will be experimenting with some new formats over the next few weeks. During this transition period the comments section will be unavailable to users.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your continued support of The Root.

While we are experimenting, please feel free to leave feedback below about your past experiences commenting at The Root.