Rev. Howard E. Jones Jr.

As we begin the observance of Black History Month, it is important to remember the gains that have been made, and yet, there is so much more that must be done, to prevent an erosion of those gains and continue to move forward, despite the obvious.  One way to reach that goal is to focus on why voting is imperative.  Who voted, who did not vote. How can one win the popular vote and lose in the electoral college vote. Why vote?

Regardless of all these issues, it is significant to point out that voting is still the opportunity for the playing field to be level, if we use it well, use it right and most importantly, use it.

Voting is our unalienable right. It is our responsibility. It is our privilege. If we don’t use it. We abuse the power that so many fought and died for us to gain.  For some, those are hollow words, but for the decedents of Ida B. Wells, a newspaper publisher & activist  from Memphis, who  covered lynchings in the south, who had to flee from that city to Chicago to escape being murdered, herself…these are not hollow words.

For Medgar Evers of Mississippi, who was shot down in the drive way of his home in Jackson, because he was fighting for the cause to get African Americans to register and vote…these are not hollow words-for his descendants.  They are real.

For the Freedom Riders and students at TSU, Fisk and American Baptist College, who were jailed, beaten and harassed for seeking justice right here in Nashville; the fact that others died for that cause, reveals that these are not hollow words. Diane Nash, Rip Patton, Gloria McKissack and Novella Page have experienced situations that speak to the issue that these are not hollow words, because they fought for freedom…the right to eat at a lunch counter, ride a bus and sit anywhere and vote.  For Mrs. Gladys Haley, who worked at Woolworths while the African American students were trying to integrate the lunch counters,  seeing her own people, children of people she knew being spit on, yelled at and even hit……these are not hollow words. These are not fictional characters in a cartoon or on play station.  These people and situations are real.

During the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s many people dealt with the fight for the right to vote….It was an emotional charge.  And now, in 2017, we are still experiencing an emotional charge of the results of the election.  We must make a decision as to what we will do to let that emotional charge move us to practical and functional action for our lives and our livelihood.

Should we be prepared to fight to ensure that the1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, are not repealed.  The Civil Rights Act outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.  The Voting Rights Act prohibits racial discrimination in voting.

Voting made the difference then and it can be the difference now and in the future.  You decide.

This is Part One of a two part series on the Importance of voting. See next week’s edition on Why We Must Vote!

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