My name is Grace Bell Hardison. I am 102 years young and I am thrilled to support the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Let me tell you why.
I was born in 1916. No women had the right to vote, let alone Black women. In the years after gaining suffrage, I witnessed poll taxes, literacy tests and physical intimidation designed to keep people like me from voting. Sadly, this kind of voter suppression isn’t confined to the history books. In the last election, in 2016, politicians in my state tried to purge me from the voting rolls when I was 100 years old.
They sent me and many other Black North Carolinians a letter, and if it was returned as undeliverable they moved to strike us from the rolls, even if the address was incorrect, as in my case. I’ve lived in Belhaven, North Carolina my entire life and voted 24 straight years. I love voting—it’s my right and responsibility.
They knew what they were doing.
That’s why it’s so important that people are taking to the streets today all over the country to declare that systemic racism is violence.
Voter suppression like I experienced in 2016 keeps Black people from electing leaders who support policies that will lift up our communities. What’s ironic is the same politicians elected as a result of racist voter suppression end up passing laws that hurt poor white people as well.
Today, the Poor People’s Campaign – A National Call for Moral Revival- will kick off the second of six weeks of nonviolent direct action. Thousands of people in three dozen state capitals will demand immediate restoration of the Voting Rights Act, an end to racist gerrymandering and reversal of state laws that prevent municipalities from raising wages.
Days after President Trump called undocumented immigrants “animals” who “aren’t people,” we will call for a clear and just immigration system that strengthens our democracy through the broad participation of everyone in this country.
You can watch and share last week’s great footage of activists in North Carolina, my home state of more than 100 years, here.
This Poor People’s Campaign is just what our country needs now, and I thank you for being part of it.
Forward together, not one step back,
Grace Bell Hardison