Voting Rights Act, Local Reaction

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Thursday, President Bush signed legislation extending the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for the next 25 years. The act opened the polls to millions of African-Americans and outlawed racist voting practices in the south.

In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act after certain groups and terrorist organizations tried to intimidate or prohibit blacks from voting.

Charles Evans, NAACP President, said, “During that period a lot of people weren't allowed to go to the polls and register to vote, and the amendment insures and minimizes some of those problems.”

This historic piece of legislation is renewed every 25 years. Thursday, President Bush signed the bill to continue Johnson's legacy.

NAACP members say countless blacks defended their lives to have a right to vote, a privilege some take for granted.

Anita Davis added, "They need to educate themselves on the importance of voting. Those persons who died for us, I commend them, but the fact is we need to use this factor to exercise or right to vote."

Although the 15th Amendment guarantees the right to vote, many Americans say more work needs to be done.

Jack Grace, a Florida State student, said, "I feel like being an African-American that people feel that our votes go unheard. People shun us, and every time there's a vote for president we have all these problems.”

Despite those problems, many see the Voting Rights Act as the most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever passed by Congress.

NAACP members are hoping the act becomes a permanent law, protecting the rights of all Americans as guaranteed by the 15th Amendment.