The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised
by man for breaking down injustice.
~ President Lyndon B. Johnson
Give us the ballot and we will fill our legislative halls
with men of good will....
Tomorrow, August 6, is the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Signed into law by President Lyndon Baines Johnson, the act put to an end nationwide the denial and abridgment of the right to vote.
The fight for voting rights was long and violent. Voting rights activists in Philadelphia, Mississippi, were murdered and in March, 1965, state and local police carried out an unprovoked attack on 600 marchers, many of them students, who had begun peacefully making their way from Selma, Alabama, to the state's capitol in Montgomery; they were billy-clubbed and tear-gassed and driven back into the city from Edmund Pettus Bridge. That "Bloody Sunday", as it came to be known, was followed by two more marches originating in Selma; it is the focus of the new 40-minute documentary Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot, the trailer for which is below.
Produced by The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as part of its Teaching Tolerance project, Selma portrays the history-making demonstrations and other efforts to guarantee all Americans, especially African Americans in the South, one of our most important civil rights.
The film is available free to schools and civic organizations that want to use it to promote voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote events and for community screenings to raise awareness of voter apathy* and the recent resurgence of voter-suppression laws.
* According to the SPLC, more than 90 million eligible voters failed to vote in the 2012 presidential election.
Film Kit for Selma includes a DVD copy of the documentary, a viewer's guide, timelines of historic activities and events, and a map of Alabama showing locations significant to the voting rights struggle.