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Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by The Packard Humanities Institute

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Hearst Newsreels

March 21, 2015 - 3:00 pm
Blaine Bartell, senior newsreel preservationist, UCLA Film & Television Archive.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is one of the landmark pieces of legislation in the 20th century.  In tonight’s program we will be taking a look at how this bill was covered in the Hearst newsreels and showing the speech President Lyndon Johnson gave before submitting it to Congress.  We will start by looking at three newsreels covering the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—another civil rights landmark, which many people felt was not strong enough in regards to guaranteeing voting rights.  These concerns prompted President Johnson to create the bill that became the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Johnson’s actions took place during the famous Selma to Montgomery Marches, which included the infamous “Bloody Sunday” beatings of civil rights activists on March 7, 1965.  This evening’s program will include footage shot two days later when another attempt to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge was made.  Shortly before reaching the bridge Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. halted the march and led the group back to their starting point.  As a result March 9 became known as “Turnaround Tuesday.”

This evening’s highlight will be the screening of Johnson’s complete “We Shall Overcome,” or “the American Promise,” speech, which Johnson delivered before a joint session of Congress on March 15.  This will be followed by a short filmed interview with King where he discusses a meeting he had with Johnson regarding recent events.

Aside from coverage of the Voting Rights Act, newsreels to be screened will include coverage of other events of note from 1964 and 1965, among them the Beatles in Holland, Ted Kennedy surviving a plane crash, the death of King Farouk of Egypt, and American troops arriving in San Francisco prior to being sent to Vietnam.  —Blaine Bartell

35mm, b/w, total running time of program: approx. 120 min.

Preserved from 35mm safety original negative and 35mm triacetate composite dupe negatives.  Laboratory services by The Stanford Theatre Film Laboratory, Simon Daniel Sound, Audio Mechanics, DJ Audio, Film Technology Company, Inc.  Special thanks to: King Features.