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How dare we not vote!

The Dallas Examiner | 10/30/2013, 4:38 p.m.

“I have come to see more and more that one of the most decisive steps that the Negro can take is that little walk to the voting booth. That is an important step. We’ve got to gain the ballot, and through that gain, political power.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., NAACP Emancipation Day Rally, Jan. 1, 1957

Unless you were living during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s you may not know how civil rights workers helping Blacks register to vote were murdered.

You probably don’t know that Medgar Evers, a 37-year-old field secretary for the NAACP in Mississippi, was shot in the back as he walked to the front door of his home. Maybe you don’t know that in September 1963 after the March on Washington in August 1963, a Baptist church was bombed in Birmingham, Ala., killing four little Black girls. And maybe you don’t know that three young civil rights leaders, James Earl Chaney, 21; Andrew Goodman, 20; and Michael “Mickey” Schwerner, 24, were shot at close range by a lynch mob in 1964 because they had been working to register Black voters during Freedom Summer.

Unfortunately, many school history books don’t tell the whole story of the Civil Rights Movement – and if parents and grandparents don’t tell these stories, the stories will be lost.

Young lives were sacrificed so Blacks can vote today.

However, many of us do remember. We know that our poll tax receipts were sacred to us and we kept them in safe places. And our parents’ and grandparents’ poll tax receipts were sacred to them. We know in Texas, Blacks couldn’t vote in the Democratic primary election because of the White primary rules of the time. We could only vote in the general election. (Important decisions are made in primary elections). We know a lawsuit had to be filed for Blacks to be able to vote in the primary elections in Texas and in 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled all Texans have the right to vote in the primary election of their choice.

There was a time in Dallas, that Black Americans could not sit in restaurants, could not go to movie theatres, could not demand good paying jobs. We now have many of the privileges America offers. The vote got us where we are. If we don’t vote, be assured we will lose every gain others have sacrificed for us to enjoy.

Martin Luther King Jr. believed voting was the key. He fought for the right of Blacks to vote because he believed voting would open many doors – equal employment, equal housing, equal education, equal business opportunities.

Make sure you are registered to vote and have the required second acceptable identification with your photo on it.

Then, make sure you vote – make sure your family votes, your friends vote, your church members vote and on and on.

If you’re not sure which of them vote and which do not, go to The Dallas Examiner website found at http://www.dallasexaminer.com and pull down the “Voter Roll Call” tab – at the upper right hand side – enter the name(s) of people residing in Dallas County you know and see if they vote. If they don’t – have a talk with them. Encourage them to vote.

How dare we not vote when so many things are still not right in our community … when our children are not being educated; when Texas does not accept the extension of Medicaid or Affordable Care Act – known as Obamacare – leaving many without health insurance; when our businesses do not receive equal opportunity to do business with the government; when Texas lawmakers vote to limit a woman’s right to an abortion, resulting in many clinics that provide well-woman examinations free, forcing them to close.

How dare we say our vote doesn’t count. How dare we stop fighting – we have too much to lose.

Dallas County, let’s show up to vote on in the Constitutional Amendment/Joint Election on the first Tuesday in November – Nov. 5.

Lets have the largest number of Blacks voting in the state!

Join the conversation. Email your letters to letters@dallasexaminer.com.