Last Sunday, I had the great privilege to speak at the Bailey Bethel AME Church at the invitation of our Executive Committeeman David Gaskin and Rev. Quincy Baylor. It was a perfect morning, with a bright, shining sun and a God-provided breeze that kept the heat at bay.
I was allowed a few minutes to share some facts about the upcoming election in November, voter registration, the voting process, and the history of voting rights in our country. The story of the Freedom Summer murders in 1964 especially moves me. Three young men were traveling through Mississippi as activists helping to register African-Americans to vote. They were abducted and murdered by local law enforcement for doing the very thing I was doing that Sunday morning at Bailey Bethel.
I can’t imagine the bravery those men and countless others exhibited back in the 60’s, fighting merely to exercise the fundamental right to vote as granted by the Constitution. That point is underscored by the loss of two civil rights icons last week. Congressman John Lewis and Rev. C.T. Vivian were only young men themselves as they marched side-by-side with Martin Luther King Jr towards a foe that outnumbered and out-armed them.
In those days, there was a clear goal and a very determined opposition willing to resort to violence to prevent that goal from being reached. But today, our opponent is apathy and it’s doing just as good of a job keeping people from the polls.
In the 2016 Presidential Election, 1 out of 3 registered voters did not vote. And it’s estimated that 30% of US citizens who are eligible to vote never even registered. Put those two numbers together and you find that just under half of eligible Americans actually voted in November, 2016. And we wonder why we’re in the mess we’re in today! Let’s honor the memory of those that have sacrificed, some with their lives, for our right to vote by making sure we all take advantage of that opportunity on November 3, 2020. Let’s go above and beyond by bringing our family, friends, and neighbors with us. In numbers, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.