“A vote is the best way of getting the kind of country and the kind of world you want.”– HARRY S. TRUMAN
HOUSTON — Racially-motivated killings appear to be at an all-time high (at least for this generation), police brutality is at an all-time high (or at least we can PROVE it more now thanks to cellphone video and social media) and mistrust/distrust of our elected and appointed leaders is at an all-time high as civil unrest and unlawfulness continues to spread across America.
“This is some f*** up sh**,” said African American News&Issues publisher Roy Douglas Malonson. “What’s happening in America is like what Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s song called ‘A Real Mother for Ya!'”
Do you want it to end, but feel there’s not much you can do about it? Well, there is one thing — VOTE as if your LIFE depended on it — and, frankly, it does!
This time, however, African Americans don’t have to count jellybeans in a jar before exercising their rights.
Not sure what we are talking about? Do you know your history?
It’s one thing to watch cinematic greats like “Selma,” and replay snippets of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech twice a year (on his birthday and the anniversary of the March on Washington), but it’s more important to truly learn about your past lest you are doomed to repeat it.
From the 1890s to the 1960s, many state governments in the Southern United States administered literacy tests to prospective voters, purportedly to test their literacy in order to vote. The “jellybeans test” was a technique used during the Jim Crow era, in which the registrar would ask Black voters to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar. If Blacks guessed incorrectly – of course ANYBODY would — then they were denied the right to vote. And while Blacks went through hell, whites were given exemptions. Whites could bypass the literacy test if they could meet alternate requirements that typically excluded blacks, such as a grandfather clause, or a finding of “good moral character.” The character witness was usually another white person, more than likely a post-Civil War Southerner who was against any non-whites’ voting privileges.
These so-called literacy tests, along with poll taxes, residency and property restrictions, were commonly used to disenfranchise African Americans and deny suffrage. And when that didn’t work, there was violence, intimidation and death.
Still, Blacks continued to fearlessly fight for their rights and thanks to organized protests, an unwillingness to give up and MEDIA, laws began to change.
One day in history many will never forget is “Bloody Sunday” in which young leaders like Hosea Williams and future U.S. Congressman John Lewis, who was 25 at the time, led nearly 600 protesters on a 54-mile stretch from Selma to the state capital until they collided with a line of state troopers and Ku Klux Klansmen while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The peaceful protesters were gruesomely attacked with billy clubs and sticks, and the event was televised for the world to see. The airing of the footage resulted in a national outcry and a new federal voting rights law was passed.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965, which became a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States, was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 6, 1965.
Designed to enforce the voting rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Act secured the right to vote for racial minorities throughout the country, especially in the South. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Act is considered to be the most effective piece of federal civil rights legislation ever enacted in the country.
The late “Conscience of the Congress,” U.S. Rep. Lewis, who was severely beaten and had his skull fractured on “Bloody Sunday,” lead the successful effort in Congress to reauthorize the act. President George W. Bush signed a reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2006 and President Bill Clinton also signed a law making it easier for people to register to vote.
But still today, many claim our current president, Donald Trump, is trying to bring back Jim Crow reminiscent practices in order to remain in office.
At Lewis’ funeral this summer, President Barack Obama took a swipe at Trump.
“We may no longer have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar to be able to cast a ballot,” Obama said while delivering Lewis’ eulogy at Ebenezer Baptist Church, “but even as we sit here, there are those in power who are doing their darndest to discourage people from voting by closing polling locations and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision—even undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to an election that’s going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick.”
The planned widespread use of mail-in voting necessitated by the current global COVID-19/ coronavirus pandemic is under scrutiny and “poll watching” is being ramped up in key areas. Poll watching is a long-standing practice in which observers monitor how ballots are cast, the testing of equipment and counting procedures — looking for irregularities. They also challenge the eligibility of individual voters.
Experts say in-person fraud is almost non-existent, but Trump’s campaign announced it will dispatch tens of thousands of election monitors to battleground states to ensure Trump won’t be “cheated” out of votes. And the Democrats say they will also be releasing their own watchers – to watch the other watchers. Apparently, all eyes are on November 3.
Many marched, many were beaten, and many died so you could have a voice. Who you choose is up to you, but we want you to VOTE and VOTE EARLY!