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Word Count: 1,376
In Hudsons ambitious study he identifies two major temporal consequences of the 1965 Voting Rights Act VRA one good one bad First the VRA part of President Johnsons Great Society initiative increased the democratic participation of blacks by ensuring them equal access to voting booths in Southern states Second racist intimidation in the form of invidiously administered literacy tests constitutional interpretation tests and other obstacles imposed by whites had prevented blacks from registering to vote in many Southern states most notoriously Mississippi Fortification of the 15th amendment was in Hudsons view accomplished within the first five years of the VRA as black registration in the South increased from 29 in 1965 to 56 in 1970 What followed on the heels of this victory however was nothing short of the accelerated unraveling of Martin Luther Kings dream of racial assimilation Never mind that Kings dream was more complicated than simplistic assimilation Today we live the nightmare of a society hemmed along racial lines Who is to blame To a large extent Hudsons culprits are civil rights leaders who have stretched the original intent of the VRA to encompass affirmative action measures such as race-based redistricting and bilingual ballots Consequently race-based segregation calcifies and racial sensitivities proliferate in an atmosphere of political correctness And Hudson watches a good plan go sour They civil rights leaders drove Congress to extend its the VRAs life and amend its scope every few years and were aided by federal courts who interpreted the act and its constitutional underpinnings in the broadest most encompassing ways The Voting Rights Act evolved into an affirmative action program that contradicted the dream of assimilation While this is not a new argument Hudsons effort to make his case is novel and intriguing In addition to providing a thorough and thus extremely informative account of the legislative history the political debates and the role played by federal courts in shaping the 1965 VRA and its subsequent amendments
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