Southern Stubbornness: The Persistence of Voting Discrimination After-Shelby County v Holder


Southern Stubbornness: The Persistence of Voting Discrimination After-Shelby County v Holder

Published Date




Thesis or Dissertation


On March 15, 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King’s friends watched him cry for the first time as King listened to President Lyndon B. Johnson espouse the civil rights anthem “we shall overcome” as he urged Congress to pass voting rights legislation. King’s tears signified the importance of Johnson’s speech and just a few months later, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) was signed into law to become what legal scholars have described as “one of the most remarkable and consequential pieces of congressional legislation ever enacted”. Confronting decades of disenfranchisement, the VRA effectually targeted the persistent mass discrimination of African Americans nationwide by permanently outlawing voting practices or procedures that discriminated because of race, color, or membership in one of the language minority groups.Section 4 of the VRA identified jurisdictions that maintained discriminatory prerequisites to voting registration as of November 1, 1965 and had less than 50% voter registration in the 1964 presidential election. Section 5 prohibited the “covered” jurisdictions from making any voting changes until given approval by federal authorities in a process known as preclearance. In 1965, six states required preclearance: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia. Although sections 4 and 5 were initially set to expire after five years, Congress issued extensions in 1970, 1975, and for 25 more years in 1982. Additionally, when President George W. Bush signed another 25-year extension into law in 2006 and declared, “[b]y reauthorizing this act, Congress has reaffirmed its belief that all men are created equal,” the VRA’s place within U.S Policy appeared eternal. However, just seven years later, the Supreme Court would consider whether section 4 of the VRA was still constitutional in Shelby County v Holder (2013).



Professional paper for the fulfillment of the Master of Public Policy degree.

Related to



Series/Report Number

Funding information

Isbn identifier

Doi identifier

Previously Published Citation

Suggested citation

Stumme-Berry, Amani. (2017). Southern Stubbornness: The Persistence of Voting Discrimination After-Shelby County v Holder. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

Content distributed via the University Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor. By using these files, users agree to the Terms of Use. Materials in the UDC may contain content that is disturbing and/or harmful. For more information, please see our statement on harmful content in digital repositories.