By Pastor Rasheed Z Baaith
“Blessed be the LORD, my rock who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.” Psalm 144:1
It has always been about voting. The Civil Rights Movement, the abnegation of the 15th Amendment by the United States Supreme Court; Shelby County vs Holder in 2013, the Freedom Rides, Freedom Summer in 1964; SNCC, Stokley Carmichael, Marion Berry and John Lewis walking those dark, foreboding roads in Mississippi. It was always about voting.
When Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party organized in 1964 to challenge the seating of delegates at the Democratic Convention that year, it was about voting
It has been the major focus of those who have always opposed the progress of Black people. Stopping our right to vote.
When Black people first began to vote in this country after the passage of the 15th Amendment which gave Black men the right to vote, we showed too well we understood its power. We demonstrated during the Reconstruction Era that we would yield that power as diligently as we could.
Voting put Black men in the House of Representatives and in the Senate during that era and gave us input into the governing of this country. We used the vote to change the character of policy and the color of representation. It has always been about voting and it still is.
So as we look back over our history and see the importance put on the vote by those who advocated for us and those who opposed us, it is so clear that focus of everyone’s effort was our right to vote.
When Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman were murdered in the Freedom Summer and their bodies found buried in dirt pile it was about voting, when Viola Liuzzo was killed in 1965, it was about voting. When the Freedom Riders were snatched off buses and the buses set aflame, it was about voting, they were beat because of the vote, they were injured because of the vote.
So how any of our people think voting can be unimportant? How can any of us decide that voting is not a priority? I can only respond as Big Man Kelly does: If our vote is not important, why have they always tried to stop us from voting?
This election season is no different. They have tried to make voting as difficult for us as they can; they have and are trying to discourage us by not having enough voting sites, by using the Postal Service disrupt the process, by utilizing people who look like us (skin folk not kin folk) to encourage us to waste our vote. Making stand in long lines in all kinds of weather during a pandemic that is air borne. This time they even got one of their favorite Negro celebrities to pretend to run for President.
But we cannot surrender to any of these distractions, no matter how great or how difficult to overcome they appear to be. We still have to vote if we have to wait three hours or three days. Just VOTE.