By Dr. John E. Warren
Publisher, Voice & Viewpoint
This week the Voice & Viewpoint carries a number of stories that focus on the voting patterns of Blacks and the increasing number of ways state officials are trying to suppress that vote. The study by the Pew Research Center on the decline of the black vote in 2016, should serve as a wake up call for many who appear to think the struggle is over and we no longer need to be concerned about voting.
We should consider that if voting was not still the key to political power, freedom and equality then why are so many republican led efforts underway to block or suppress the black vote? We should also notice from the Pew Research Center that the number of white voters is steady and increasing even though their numbers in the population as the majority demographic is changing.
Question, if others are working so hard at keeping us from voting, why are so many of us helping them by refusing to vote? It has been written and stated another way, that “the past is the introduction to the future.” (The National Archives in Washington, D.C. carries the words “The Past is Prologue”). At each period in our history when we appeared to be making great gains, a movement has come to frighten, reverse and take those gains away. Following the Civil War, we had Blacks in positions of power, members of the U.S. Senate and the Congress, State Superintendents of Instruction as in South Carolina, but the “Jim Crow” era of segregation starting with ‘separate, but equal” sought to minimize both our freedom and our personal dignity.
It took the 13th,14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution to establish our equality as human beings and as citizens. The gains made with the 1965 Voting Rights Act have been gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court Decision and the change in leadership of the U.S. Department of Justice so as to remove monitors and protections that allowed the Black vote to become important. Now, since 2016, we have over 21 states that have introduced legislation calling for “voter I.D. birth certificates that seniors can not produce and street addresses that Indian Reservations do not process.”
Our Votes, our dollars and our ability to plan long range for political change are the weapons we can only mobilize through a collective effort. Locally, let’s get serious with how we vote. Ask questions rather than vote for what someone else tells you is right. Let’s look at our needs locally, statewide and nationally. and let’s support those who support us, regardless of their color, or political party. Some things to think about.