WHY I'M VOTING



I don’t claim to be an historian, but if we don’t learn from our history we will inevitably repeat it. Many of us take for granted our right to vote. We’ve forgotten our history. Yes Lincoln freed the slaves, but it wasn’t until 1870 the 15th Amendment was made official and allowed voting, overriding earlier laws that prohibited Black voters. Some Blacks were also appointed to elected positions.

As expected many southern states resisted this legislation and denied Blacks their voting rights. This went on for many years. Congress created Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and the Commission on Civil Rights in 1957, but there still was no relief. In 1960, a law allowed federal courts to appoint voting referees to oversee voter registration after claims of discrimination. In 1964, some provisions were made but the literacy tests, poll taxes, and other agenda-laden practices were allowed to remain in place.

Bloody Sunday marked a day of tragedy. Law enforcement officers attacked civil rights demonstrators marching toward Montgomery across the bridge on March 7, 1965. The movement only grew, and the Selma-to-Montgomery march was held later in response. The march is credited with helping build momentum for passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.

This travesty was crucial to the Civil Rights Movement. Once again the Voting Rights Act has become a source of contention for Black and Hispanic voters. The GOP has endorsed the Voter ID Law; which stringently denies the disenfranchised their rights. These restrictions make it hard for hundreds of thousands; maybe even millions to qualify. Even a Student ID is not an acceptable form of identification; a policy that Republicans support in the name of eliminating voter fraud.

My Top Reasons for Voting

1. It is my GOD-given right.
2. Malcolm, Martin and countless others died for our right to vote.
3. Your vote, my vote does make a difference. Don’t let anyone lead you to believe different.
4. One the main reasons so many people seek political asylum in the United States is because they consider it a privilege to live in a country that is and practices democracy.
5. All women, poor, disenfranchised, and people of color make a statement to those who would oppress them when they cast their vote.

I’m not that old, but I’m not that young. I remember a pamphlet coming in the mail with the title “How to Recognize a Nigger.” I remember crosses being burned by the Klu Klux Klan not far from where I lived. I remember my Father campaigning in Boise, Idaho to get voters registered. We live in one of the most diverse countries in the world; yet racism is alive and well. Every time a person of color casts their vote they continue the fight and that march that Dr. Martin Luther King started, a fight that never finished. If one person is denied, if one cry is not heard we all lose. People look at the Civil Rights Movement and NAACP as antiquated. When every person of color is no longer oppressed then it is no longer needed.

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

(Joanna Jenkins votes for the first time at the age of 108.)

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