Will Blacks surrender the power of their vote?
By Duvalier Malone
We are in the middle of a historic election, where every vote literally matters. Democrats and Republicans both feel that the more voters come out, the better their opportunities are to take the White House as well as the ‘downriver’ political positions in Congress.
This election has had so many unsettling and uncomfortable aspects: A touch of racism, a pinch of bigotry and xenophobia, a smidgen of alleged criminal activities, and a dash of FBI probing. When all is said and done, this election cycle will go down in history as one of the most divisive campaigns to date.
But even though there’s so much on the line, record voter turnout is certainly not a given. There are some in the Black community that are choosing to sit out this election, stating that their vote does not count.
This is extremely disconcerting. For Blacks in Mississippi to say that our vote doesn’t count is the epitome of insult to all those civil rights luminaries who paved the way for us to become equal citizens in this country. It’s a slap in the face to them. For those that lost their lives, it’s the same as if your finger was on the trigger of the fatal weapon. It’s the same as if you fired the shot that killed Medgar Evers and stunted his brilliant legacy before his time.
If we seek change, then that change starts with each of us. If you feel that your needs are not being addressed, then you can’t refuse to take advantage of your rights. You have to grab your power at the ballot box, and vote for who you feel will make a realistic change for you and your community.
It starts at the presidency, but it doesn’t stop there. While the president sets the national agenda of the country, your representative, senator, governor, mayor and other local politicians affect you and your community directly.
The collective power in our community through our vote is amazing. We have the power to create change for ourselves, if we so choose. Many of us look at issues such as the Confederate battle flag emblem on the Mississippi state flag, and we don’t realize that the only reason that emblem is still on our flag is because we didn’t come out and vote during the flag referendum of 2001. When courageous lawmakers did their part and got the issue on the ballot, many Blacks in Mississippi didn’t fulfill our part of the bargain. We didn’t come out and show the support for those leaders, and there-fore this symbol of bigotry and hate is still displayed on our state flag.
There are those that are seeking to suppress the African American vote. They wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t realize something that we take for granted: The fact that our vote is powerful. If we just take our power from those who want to take advantage of us, then we can voice our opinion to the world through our vote.
This election has been steered in a way to depress our morale. The goal is to make us feel that we shouldn’t vote.
Are we willing to surrender to those who wish to deprive us of our rights as American citizens?
If we do, then when our children ask us the hard questions such as: Who shot Martin Luther King Jr.? Who shot Medgar Evers?
Our only reply should be, “We did.” Because for us to soil their memory and the cause that they gave their lives for, is the same as killing them all over again.