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Lyndon B. Johnson Signing Pen for Voting Rights Act of 1965
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This artifact came from Arnold “Pappy” Noel (1922-2009), a longtime news photographer who at that time was in the Public Affairs Office of the Secretary of Defense. Noel earned his nickname in World War II as a B-29 tail gunner. After the war and his retirement, he joined United Press International as a newsreel and still photographer, filming presidential and White House events, marches on Washington and Selma, fires and riots in Washington and Detroit, and early NASA events. At the 1968 Democratic Convention, he became part of the story when he was injured and arrested for refusing to hand over his film of “excessive abuse of law enforcement agents towards demonstrators.” He was president of the White House Press Photographers Association for two years, leaving the press corps to work as a public affairs assistant to President Ford.

LYNDON B. JOHNSON. “One of the pens used by the President, August 6, 1965, in signing S. 1564, An Act to enforce the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and for other purposes,” per original printed slip in original box. Clear barrel pen, “The President-The Whitehouse” printed in white, with “Esterbrook” on the nib, 6⅜ in. long. With additional artifacts.

Inventory #27655       Price: $20,000

Historical Background
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 barred discrimination and segregation in education, public facilities, jobs, and housing. President Kennedy sent the Act to Congress in 1963, but the Judiciary Committee held it back. Gaining support after the September 1963 March on Washington, it still did not pass until July of 1964, after Kennedy’s assassination. Even then, the job was still not done. On March 15, 1965, a week after Bloody Sunday, President Lyndon B. Johnson addressed the nation, declaring that “all Americans must have the privileges of citizenship regardless of race.” He announced that he was sending a new bill to Congress with more power to prevent states and election officials from denying southern blacks the vote.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed poll taxes, literacy tests, and other practices that had prevented southern blacks from voting. Where local authorities continued to disfranchise African Americans, it authorized the attorney general to send federal officials to register black voters and authorized the federal government to supervise elections. There was an immediate effect. By the middle of 1966, over half a million Southern blacks had registered to vote, and by 1968, almost four hundred black people had been elected to office.

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