On August 6, our nation celebrated an auspicious anniversary that was largely overlooked and undervalued. One could justify overlooking this anniversary by saying, “Current events are moving so fast that it’s hard to keep up with everything.”
That reasoning may be true, but it hardly justifies overlooking, ignoring or failing to recognize such an important date in US and African-American history.
August 6, 2017 marked the 52nd anniversary of the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. African-Americans should mark this date on our calendars and constructively celebrate it by engaging in purposeful action to encourage others to understand our responsibility to vote, and to make the commitment to vote in every election.
I have heard and understand the thinking behind most arguments against voting. From those short-sighted enough to believe “My one vote won’t count!” to those who ask, “Since all politicians are the same, what will my vote change?,” I say you’re wrong! Your vote is the most important gift of citizenship you possess.
Voting is payment of a debt to those who sacrificed themselves, often to their deaths, for our right to vote. Our votes honor the struggles of our forbearers for the recognition of their humanity and full citizenship.
Think of yourself
Although both statements are valid and remain true, my appeal today is to your self-interest. Most of us who share similar life experiences will admit that we have never had someone attempt to take something without value from us. That being true, if our vote were meaningless, we would not see the assault on our voting rights and the widespread and recurring effort to reduce our numbers at the polls.
Federal courts in Wisconsin, Texas and North Carolina have determined that recently enacted voter laws in those states were instituted for the sole purpose of lessening the impact of African-American voters. The NC judge called it targeting with “surgical precision.”
President No. 45 is claiming that three million people voted illegally in 2016. Most analysts agree that he’s made that claim to justify laws that will tighten restrictions against voters inclined to vote Democratic or for progressive policies.
In an executive order, 45 has authorized an Election Integrity Commission. At its helm, he appointed Kris Kobach, Kansas secretary of state and well-known proponent of voter suppression initiatives. Rather than broadening the base of legal voters, Kobach is charged with restricting the number of opposition voters.
Read it before
By now, I’m sure that many of my regular readers are saying to themselves, “I’ve heard or read similar thoughts and ideas somewhere else before.” For many, I will admit that you’ve probably read these ideas in one of my previous columns. I can only add that if you read me with regularity, you will see these ideas expressed repeatedly.
Reinstitution of maximum federal sentencing guidelines, near-repeal of Obamacare, proposed lawsuits against universities whose Affirmative Action initiatives create ‘reverse discrimination’ against Whites, ignoring DOJ consent decrees that monitor and regulate racially disparate law enforcement among police departments, constant and recurring lies from 45 and his close circle – if these past six months have not caused you to understand that elections have consequences, nothing will.
If for no other reason than your own survival, you must reject taking the easy way out. You must resolve to vote so that we can collectively remove the yoke of regressive treatment that’s being forced upon our backs.
Dr. E. Faye Williams is national chair of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. Contact her via www.nationalcongressbw.org.