For Educators: Voting Rights Act of 1965


Amendment: an alteration of or addition to a motion, bill, constitution, etc.

Bill of Rights: a document containing a formal statement of rights; i.e. a summary of fundamental rights and privileges guaranteed to a people against violation by the state&emdash;used especially in reference to the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution.

Caucus: a faction within a legislative body that pursues its interests through the legislative process, i.e. the Congressional Black Caucus.

Civil Rights Movement: movement in the United States beginning in the 1960s, led primarily by blacks, to establish the civil rights of individual black citizens.

Constitution: the basic principles and laws of a nation, state, or social group that determine the powers and duties of the government and guarantee certain rights to the people in it.

Ku Klux Klan: a secret society formed in the South after the Civil War to resist the emancipation of slaves and suppress African Americans through terrorist tactics.

Legislature: an elected branch of government having the power to make laws.

Literacy Test: a test many southern states administered to prevent African Americans from registering to vote.

Poll Taxes: a tax required as a qualification for voting. After the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution extended the vote to blacks in 1870, many southern states instituted poll taxes to prevent blacks from voting. The Twenty-fourth Amendment to the Constitution, adopted in 1964, prohibits poll taxes for federal elections.

Primary Documents: primary sources that may include letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, speeches, interviews, memoirs, and documents produced by government agencies.

Ratify: an authoritative statement, i.e. to formally approve a law.

Reauthorization: the process by which Congress prescribes changes, additions, and deletions in the re-approval and extension of a current law.

US Congress: the legislature of the United States government.

Vote: a formal expression of a wish will, or choice made by an act or process of voting.

Voter Registration: the requirement of citizens to register with their local board of elections before being qualified to vote.

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