The Substance of Things Hoped for: Faith, Social Action & Passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Source: Jonathan C. Augustine, United Theological Seminary; Southern University Law Center, June 30, 2015
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From the abstract:

….In supporting the central thesis that faith-based actions led to passage of the Act, this Article is divided into five parts. Part I serves as an introduction, providing an overview of sociopolitical conditions that necessitated the Act’s enactment. Part II builds upon Part I by overviewing the evolution of the Act’s Sections 2 and 5, arguably its most important parts, while also detailing why the two sections were and remain very important. Part III explores how a theology of civil disobedience, motivated by faith and the Judeo-Christian concept of suffering being redemptive, shaped a climate for the Freedom Rides and lunch counter sit-ins of 1961, events that served as a natural preference to Bloody Sunday in 1965, a watershed sociopolitical occurrence that forced President Johnson’s Great Society Initiative to include voting rights along with education reform and poverty eradication. By setting a theological foundation of where faith and social action meet, Part III details some of the chronological events that led to the Act becoming law.

The Article’s Part IV looks at the political reality of how the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder undermines and essentially guts the Act’s practical reach, while somehow leaving it constitutionality intact, with Part V looking at the Act’s future and limited practical application, serving as this Article’s conclusion. Unless those in the post-modern era replicate the actions of the Movement’s faith leaders and demand that the Republican-controlled Congress act in response to the Court’s decision in Shelby County and enact a new and improved Act, its future is arguably very bleak….