Harvard’s top gun law professor speaks at FMU

Charles Olgletree
Charles Olgletree

Harvard’s top gun law professor speaks at FMU

By Jimmie Davis, Jr.

     Is it really necessary to instruct the Black community on the importance of upholding their civic duties by going to the polls on Election Day to cast their votes for the presidential candidate of their choice?

    It’s of great consequence that Americans vote and that’s why Florida Memorial University [FMU] and the Harvard Black Alumni Society of South Florida collaborated, and sponsored a “Voting Rights Teach IN” on Saturday at FMU.

    This presidential election will be different than it was when citizens went out in droves and voted for Barack Obama to become the first African American president.

    Largely in part because of voter apathy – this generation not acknowledging the price that their ancestors paid to vote and the new Jim Crow Laws that’s being enforced.

    “Young people don’t seem to realize or understand the past,” said Harvard Law Professor Charles J. Ogletree during the forum, which was held at the Lou Rawls Center for the Performing Arts. “There are new restrictions on voting that the public must be made aware of and that’s why we are here today.”

    He says that Black Americans had to overcome the infamous “Slave Codes” under the nemesis of Jim Crow, which included poll taxes where a fee was charged to vote.

     Furthermore, Blacks succumbed to literacy tests and this prevented the majority of them from voting because they couldn’t read nor write.

     “Today is what FMU is all about and that’s why we are teaching our community on the challenges of what we face as Black voters,” said Dr. Henry Lewis III, President of Florida Memorial University. “There are still people who want to take away our voting rights.”

     The forum also highlighted several video clips of distinguished African Americans such as Rep. John Lewis [D] Georgia, who marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights movement.

     Lewis says that politicians are changing the rules of voting to keep Black disenfranchised like they did during the 60’s.

    “They are changing the hours of voting and coming up with voter ID laws,” said Lewis. “This is not right/fair and unjust.”

    Olgetree who by the way was the law professor of both Barack and Michelle Obama while they attended Harvard says barriers are cropping up again and that we must find a way to overcome them.

    Additionally, a clip of Arch-bishop Desmond Tutu was shown to demonstrate that here in America we shouldn’t take voting for granted.

    Tutu voted for the very first time in his native country of South Africa at the age of 63.  

    Also included was James Weldon Johnson who wrote the lyrics to the Negro National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing”.

    According to the video Johnson was a student At Florida Memorial College when we penned the song and a very active member of the NAACP.

    Dr. Tameka Hobbs, professor at FMU gave a presentation on “Freedom is Not Free” which provided a backdrop on the history of Blacks being clamped down on and not allowed to vote.

    “We are looking back so we can move forward,” said Hobbs. “When Blacks were freed from slavery they educated themselves and built schools and colleges.”

    Many individuals don’t vote because they are under the impression that their vote just doesn’t count, but Kristin Johnson, Student Government President for FMU thinks otherwise.

    He says it’s important to vote because the issues that are in front of society must be ad-dressed.

    “Voting is a call to order that should not be ignored,” said Johnson. “The issues we are facing now will impact us as we get older.”

    Miami-Dade County appointed the very lovely Penelope Townsley as its Supervisor of Elections in 2011 and she attended the round-table discussion to provide the nitty-gritty on election laws.

    “The greatest challenge is getting voters out to vote on Election Day,” said Townsley.



About Carma Henry 22956 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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