Mothers of the Movement L-R: Ms. Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland; Ms. Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, and Ms. Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner. Photo by Phillip Brown a senior at Florida Memorial University.
By Byler E. Henry
Every year around election time you see commercials, yard signs, bumper stickers, and signs promoting a candidate. Voting is very important, especially for the young people of color.
As evidence of this, members of Mothers of the Movement held a panel discussion on the campus of historic Florida Memorial University to encourage the students to register to vote.
These African-American mothers have a common bond forged by the deaths of their children. All of them are surviving mothers whose children died at the hands of some form of law enforcement.
They gained national eminence during a prime time speaking period at the Democratic National Convention.
They have offered Hillary Clinton educational secessions on the pain and suffering from a mother’s point of view in the manner in which their children were killed and the need to get our young Black people out to the polls.
“It’s important to get out and vote, exercise your right, exercise your voice, your voice is attached to that vote.” – Ms. Sybrina Fulton
I would like to stress to my peers how important it is to spend a few minutes at the poll.
At the young age of 24, I am registered to vote and realize the responsibility that I have as an American citizen. We have heard in school about the passing and ratifying of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. However, have we learned about how much of a struggle it was to be able to actually use those rights?
Now that we have and recognize our need and the importance of our vote, do we know how to make an educated vote?
“Let me see what they have done for the community in the past, let me see what they have done for the country in the past, see if this person is worthy of my vote.”- Ms. Gwen Carr
The Fourteenth Amendment made all those born on U.S. soil citizens, and the Fifteenth Amendment gave men the right to vote. It wasn’t until 1964 or 1965 that we actually were able to use our voice at the polls, because every trick in the book was used to deny those rights.
“You have to come up on the shoulders of your parents. They are just the foundation; you have to build the house.” – Ms. Gwen Carr
I had a chance to hear some powerful words about the importance of voting from three mothers, who lost their children to the misconduct of law enforcement personnel. They all believe that voting is very important. As the younger generation, we have to continue what the older generation started.
“Our voices matter, you can speak with that vote, it’s important.” – Ms. Geneva Reed-Veal
These three members of the Mothers of the Movement group, Ms. Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland; Ms. Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin; and Ms. Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner helped me to realize that many of the younger generation, take our voting rights for granted. I will not forget what I have learned at the panel discussion at Florida Memorial University.
Many of our forefathers fought, protested and died just to have the right to vote and some of us do not take advantage of it. We could just roll out of bed and find a way to the nearest poll, but we find every excuse not to go.
Instead of spending a few minutes at the poll, we would rather spend our time waiting in line for the latest sneaker release or other wants of ours. It’s not a bad thing to buy a nice pair of shoes if that’s what you want to do, but you have to have your priorities in order.
Believe it or not, your vote does count.
It is important to vote in all the elections and not just the presidential. Your judges, senators, and congress affect us every day.
Picking the right president is also determining who your Supreme Court Justices and federal judges are going to be.
I hope you are now beginning to understand the power of the polls.
If you don’t use your vote, you can’t complain about the outcome.
So what are you going to do when it’s time to vote?
If you are not yet registered, please use a few minutes of your time to register. Once you register, it is your responsibility as a citizen to do your part and use the voice that you are given.
Also educate yourself on what candidate you feel is the best for the job; don’t just vote to vote. It is also important to educate ourselves on the issue and know who we want to hold that position.
Remember, “Young people need to vote. They need to get out there. Every vote counts. Educate yourself, too. Don’t just vote. Know what you’re voting for and stand by that.” – Nikki Reed.