The Conscious Corner by Maceo Z. Keeling, Sr. –
There are many reasons to vote; first and foremost, voting is the cornerstone of democracy as we know it.
In our educational system, most curriculums have strayed away from teaching civics and constitutional history. In the past twenty years, people have shown that they have no idea when government exceeds the powers bestowed by the United States Constitution, and know even less about how to address these improprieties of democracy.
At its foundation, the vote is intended to give everyone who is a United States citizen a voice in this nation’s governance. The right to vote means that you are a stakeholder, a phenomenally powerful participant in the direction and determination of our local communities, our state, and our nation. Interestingly enough, this right was born from the right given to all people: the right to participate in the decisions that affect their lives. When we enter the voting booth or mail in our vote, we are equals! One soul, one vote!
“At the bottom of all the tributes paid to democracy is the little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper—no amount of rhetoric or voluminous discussion can possibly diminish the overwhelming importance of that point.”— Winston Churchill, British House of Commons, Oct. 31, 1944
The 14th Amendment, following the Civil War, gave Black American men the right to vote for the first time. Then the 19th Amendment in 1920 gave all women—including Black women, on paper—the same right. But with the imposition of Jim Crow after Reconstruction and lasting into the 1960s, those rights had long been denied. Then the Voting Rights Act, signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, gave Blacks the right to vote—again—along with specific protections to do so. But in 2013 a Supreme Court case from Texas, Shelby County v. Holder, again levied a deep and devastating assault on the right once protected by the Voting Rights Act.
Shelby v. Holder, allegedly passed to stop “voter fraud,” which was virtually nonexistent, has allowed states to close polling places, cut back early voting, and purge voter rolls of millions of Black men and women, without any repercussions for districts that do so. Even today the manipulation of our federal mail service is yet another way to disrupt our fundamental right to vote. In North Carolina, immediately after the decision in Shelby, the Republican legislature passed laws, signed by Republican governor Pat McCrory, that targeted voting practices including same-day registration and early voting. These were practices that had driven surges in the turnout from Black and Brown voters. The new laws were intentionally aimed at communities of color that participated in the electoral process.
President Johnson stated one week after Bloody Sunday, “I speak tonight for the dignity of manned the destiny of democracy. At times history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom.”
History and Fate have come together again in the wake of the deaths and abuses of our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and all those we love. There are disparities and inequities. In Shelby, the rush to change our voting protections came galloping through our nation on horseback, but to get them back we will have to walk them back, step by step.
Our American history is replete with bloodshed and death to our people fighting for this right. We must VOTE to determine if our fate is to continue the legacy of public murder and unequal treatment we see under the law. Is this season of death and discontent the tipping point? Is it the inflection point that drives people of color to participate and take action in the process?
If we don’t participate in the voting process coming before us November 3, 2020, shame on us! Shame on us because silence, nonparticipation, apathy, and a failure to VOTE is a failure on our part to seize this season of change. If you don’t believe that the VOTE works and will change things, do it because you believe that your people’s lives depend on it!
Stand up! Be counted! And for that singular moment when you cast your vote, know that your vote is equal to any other vote cast in the entire country. You don’t have to run for office, but you do have to vote if you don’t want the office to run over you!
We must mask up, take a chair, walk, run, carpool, take the day off from work (or hours off), absentee vote, mail in your ballot weeks in advance, or carry it to the Board of Elections (77 McDowell Street at Choctaw). We must vote to maintain our democracy and freedoms that so many people fought and died for.
Election Protection Hotline
Have a question about the voting process, or experiencing difficulties voting in person? Call the FREE Election Protection hotline to be connected to an expert who can support you.
- English: 1-866 OUR VOTE
- Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA
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