21 Jul 2011
- Written by Tri-State Defender Newsroom
William Larsha Sr.
The percentage of African Americans who voted in the last several elections has gone down – in each election, down. Why is this happening?
In the last election, some African Americans did not vote, and knew not who were running for public offices. Some didn’t even know the names of persons holding offices. And others were barred from voting because they failed to vote in a previous election and had not re-registered in order to again vote.
Are African Americans too busy for politics and voting? Do they believe that politics is no longer important? Do they believe that leaving politics up to some one else is the right thing to do?
Whatever may be happening, it seems as though some African Americans think that voting is “old school” stuff and not what “it is.” (It’s as though they think that the history of African Americans trying to achieve freedom in this country is really not one of struggle.)
I’m “old school” and that is one reason I vote. I’m 87 years of age. In the early part of my life, I lived in the southeastern part of this country, where I didn’t vote because I couldn’t vote.
This was before the enactment of the Civil Rights laws of the 1950’s and 60’s, and in particular, the Voting Rights Act. This was during the time in which the liberty bell seldom rang in Tennessee.
I remember when African Americans who tried to win voting rights privileges were severely beaten. Some were hanged for trying to vote. I remember when several African-American churches were bombed, killing grown-ups and children who were trying to achieve voting rights privileges.
I remember a past, joyful to many white people, but miserable for most African Americans.
I know this is a different day in which we live. African Americans can now eat at the same places white people eat; dance where white people dance; attend schools that white people attend; pray where white people pray; and sit on seats in public buses where once upon a time they couldn’t.
Sure, the flag of democracy in this country can be seen waving. But must we forget the past? Must we make it unfashionable to be black?
Voting is the reason why blacks shout “Black Power;” and sing “I’m Black and I’m Proud,” and “Lift Every Voice And Sing.”
I write to remind you that coming up are two important elections – Election 2011 and Election 2012 – and both will weigh heavy with many good candidates to consider.
Thus, I write to remind you of the past so the present can be appreciated – that voting is a precious privilege.
And because you have ignored that privilege (disrespected those who suffered and died so you can have this privilege), it’s no telling how many good candidates lost their election because you didn’t vote.
I’m not writing to “mean spirit” or “dog out” African Americans for not voting in recent elections. I’m writing and appealing to African Americans to make their votes as precious as they are to themselves, and to vote in the next elections.