1965 – LBJ calls for equal voting rights


On March 15, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson addresses a joint session of Congress to urge the passage of legislation guaranteeing voting rights for all.

Using the phrase “we shall overcome,” borrowed from African American leaders struggling for equal rights, Johnson declares that “every American citizen must have an equal right to vote.” Johnson reminds the nation that the Fifteenth Amendment, which was passed after the Civil War, gave all citizens the right to vote regardless of race or color. But states had defied the Constitution and erected barriers. Discrimination had taken the form of literacy, knowledge or character tests administered solely to African Americans to keep them from registering to vote.

“Their cause must be our cause too,”Johnson said. “Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.”

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READ MORE: Voting Rights in the United States: A Timeline

Citation Information

Article Title

LBJ calls for equal voting rights

AuthorHistory.com Editors

Website Name

HISTORY

URL

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/johnson-calls-for-equal-voting-rights

Access Date

March 14, 2023

Publisher

A&E Television Networks

Last Updated

January 11, 2023

Original Published Date

November 24, 2009