Use All Your Hard-Won Rights

Mar 16, 2016

I’ve been perplexed by some recent articles and conversations on Social Media.

Some African-Americans -- including faith leaders -- are urging people of color not to vote because none of the candidates for president have an African-American agenda. While I don’t necessarily agree with their position, I do understand.

I stand in total disagreement with the suggestion African-Americans shouldn’t vote. As an African-American, I have the rights that I do today because of the price paid by those who came before me.

I’m standing on the shoulders of men and women who fought fearlessly for the civil right to vote. People who were attacked by dogs, sprayed with fire hoses, and beaten by the batons of law enforcement because they wanted to exercise their right as Americans to vote.

Others paid the ultimate price with their lives. I’m reminded of the Freedom Summer Murders. In 1890, the state of Mississippi had passed a new constitution, supported by additional laws, which effectively excluded most African-American residents of the state from registering or voting.

In 1964 Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney were civil-rights activists registering African-Americans in Philadelphia, Mississippi, to vote when they were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. When we don’t vote, we nullify the sacrifices made for us to participate in this process for the people.

If no candidate aligns with your agenda, then write your name on the ballot. Either way, don’t forgo the exercising of this right.

I’m Joe Mitchell, and this is my perspective.