Blacks must vote in every election

The Dallas Examiner | 3/10/2014, 8:08 a.m.

The Dallas Examiner

The percentage of eligible voters who vote is very small. We don’t know why. We can speculate and analyze about it. But what we do know is Black people should vote in every election. Too many of our forefathers have lost too much fighting for Blacks to have the right to vote.

Our co-workers, neighbors, bosses etc. may not vote, but we have a reason to vote because of our history.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for us to have the right to vote. Civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner died trying to get Negroes the right to vote. Our ancestors were denied the right to vote when they failed literacy tests and were intimidated and feared for their lives if they tried to vote. Groups like the Klu Klux Klan would threaten to hang African Americans or burn their house down for trying to register and/or vote. Racist individuals would follow Blacks to taunt them.

Our history is full of these types of stories about Blacks being denied the right to vote.

Even though we have come a long way and many things are better today, unfortunately the playing field is still not even. Our city leaders recognize this fact. In Dallas, Mayor Mike Rawlings, City Councilman Dwayne Caraway and County Commissioner Elba Garcia are sponsoring a series of conversations on race in an effort for the city to heal and for all citizens to have an equal opportunity.

King said at the NAACP Emancipation Day Rally, Jan. 1, 1957, “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.”

One of the propositions on the ballot was in regard to Medicaid expansion, affected by the Affordable Health Care Act.

The act makes it possible for many to have health insurance. However, Texas has the largest number of people who are uninsured. The expansion of Medicaid would have made it possible for many more people without health insurance to be insured, but the state of Texas refused to expand Medicaid.

According to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, 133,000 more people in Dallas County who currently have no health insurance would be covered if the state expanded Medicaid. It would add $1.4 million in health coverage to our hospitals in Dallas County. It would provide over $100 million in additional economic benefits to the County each year and to our local economy.

On Monday, Texas residents who voted in the Democratic Party Primary had the opportunity to voice their position in regard to the added medical coverage. However, many residents failed to vote, again.

What can we do about this?

Something can be done about this – we can vote and remind others of the importance of voting and exercising our right to vote.

Not only do we need to vote, we need to hold our elected officials accountable to ensure that the decisions they make are in the best interest of their constituents. We need to show up in the judicial courtrooms, school board meetings, legislative sessions in Austin, city council meetings and government forums.

Black History Month just ended, and before that King’s birthday celebration. While the struggles of our forefathers are fresh on our minds, how are we going to affect change in our community?

Have the fights of our forefathers been in vain?

Be part of the conversation. Email your letters to mbelt@dallasexaminer.com. Subject: Letter to the publisher