As election time is rolling around again and since this week is a reflection of my late Mother, I must share this story about the last Presidential Election.
My 90 year old Mother drove the family and me crazy about her absentee ballot. There was no way that she was not going to cast her vote for the President of the United States. Thank goodness she received her ballot.
Of course, it had to be overnighted from Cleveland, Ohio to assure its timely arrival to the Lake Washington County Board of Elections in Greenville, Mississippi.
Her tenacity may have taken us over the edge, but I understand why.
To explain requires a brief history lesson.
* In 1955, Rev. George Lee, Regional Council of Negro Leadership and a NAACP worker was shot in the face and killed urging Blacks in the Mississippi delta to vote. The murder occurred in Belzoni, MS.
* In August 1955, Lamar Smith was killed in Brookhaven, MS. for voting registrations.
* On September 1961, in Liberty, MS., Herbert Lee was gunned down followed by NAACP State Director, Medgar Evers in 1963 in Jackson, MS. To further frighten Blacks from going to the voting polls came the violence and killing of three civil rights workers; Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner in Meridian, MS.
* Let’s not foget the Selma, ALA. marches where Blacks were met with whips and tear gas as it was broadcasted on television to the amazement of some who couldn’t believe what they saw.
In Glen Allan, MS., we had an articulate fearless leader named Jake Ayers who lead the charge to get voters registered. My Mother was in that initial group.
I give you this history recount so that you can understand why and how my Mother who has voted as she says “in every Election since she registered.” It’s a matter that she doesn’t take lightly or for granted.
Yes, she was one of the ones who sang, “I shall not be moved” and “We shall overcome” in the 1960’s.
Yes, she and my Daddy marched for our freedom.
Yes, my Mother was in the background joining forces with Ruleville, MS. civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer when she said, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
So, I say, “Momma, you can worry us to vote.”
Without question, your generation paved the way and paid the price for our voting freedoms. Our right to vote rests on your and on the courageous people of that time shoulders.
You witnessed the injustices first hand and carried the heavy load.
So I reiterate “Vote Momma Vote!”
It’s a coveted constitutional right that you treasure though it didn’t come easy.
It’s a right that Black fought, died, and marched to achieve for the generations to come.
Yes – I will follow your lead!
Yes – I will cast my ballot in the voting booth today!
Rest in Peace Momma!
Photo credit: An archival photo of a voting protest in McComb, Mississippi.