Monday, November 1, 2010

Carrying Him

When I was 14 years old, I watched a documentary about the civil rights movement, which had been going on while I was learning to take my first steps and being potty trained. I'll never forget it. It showed people being hosed down with blasts of water from firemen, buses being bombed, and children having dogs sicked on them. It was very vivid and frightening. What stuck out the most in this special was an old man, who was trying to register the people in his community to vote. It was an enactment with actors, but they showed a car of Ku Klux Klansmen who just drove down the street and shot this old man dead! I don't know why, but this particular atrocity in a documentary with numerous atrocities seemed to stand out to me. This was an elderly man. He wasn't Dr. King, he wasn't Medgar Evers, and he wasn't Malcolm X... this was just an old man.

It occurred to me that these people must have been awful afraid of this old man even thinking that he and others were going to vote. You see, by voting,some of these sheriff's, judges, and even members of the City Council who upheld the Jim Crow laws of the times, might suddenly be out of a job. Heaven forbid! We might replace them with people who look like "us" and might possibly change the laws. Damn right! And, that was a fearful thought for those Kluxers... along with the fact that they might even make a law banning them!

I can't remember who the old man was... they did say his name. But, from that day on, I made a solemn vow that when I got old enough, I was not only going to register to vote, but I was going to vote every chance I got. I dared somebody, anybody, to try and stop me from voting, I said. Four years later, when I turned 18, I went with my mother and my aunt and proudly registered to vote. I don't think I've missed a chance to vote since. I've been sick, I've been away (I've voted on absentee ballots), it has rained, etc. But, I have always voted. I keep seeing that old man getting gunned down in the street and it serves as a reminder. I feel as though I owe him. I didn't know him, but he was doing what he did for me. I was 7 years old when he met his untimely death, but he was risking his life so that I'd be able to vote and not have to risk mine.

Do you see where I'm going with this? Nobody today, has to risk their lives to vote. The rain is not going to endanger your life, unless Hurricane Katrina II is in order. Not knowing about the candidates or the issues is no excuse either. Anything you need to know about anybody running can be found on the internet, in the newspapers, in magazines, and on blogs. Even Facebook and Twitter has information about all and anything that has to do with this election. Ignorance is no excuse. Laziness is no excuse. And. there is no such thing as an "unimportant election"... I don't care if we are just electing circuit court judges. It's may not be important now, but if you have to go before a judge in the near future, it would be very important then, right? Everything counts and this has been a theme running through this blog since I started it.

When I started this blog, I didn't have any idea what it was going to be about exactly. I knew it was partially going to be about me and about my ideas. But gradually, I began to see, just by the way people who read it reacted to it, that it could be my vehicle for change too. Maybe, just maybe, I could inspire somebody, anybody to do something... to get mad, to get fired up, and to vote. If one person reads this and tells somebody else, and they show it to somebody else, and they all go and exercise their hard-fought right to vote tomorrow, then my job is done... and that old man (wherever his soul is resting now) can know that he didn't die in vain. I've carried him within me for all this time and I've honored his sacrifice!


2cute4u said...

It was an interesting read.. Have a blessed week Keith.

Mizrepresent said...

Great post Keith!It is so important that we vote, especially now.

Moanerplicity said...

Yes indeed. History will attest that we've had some REAL WARRIORS in our bloodline. We should never forget the sacrifices made, & Election Day should be a clarion call to us to in some small way give thanks & pay tribute to that old man & the thousands of other brave warrior souls like him!

VOTE, dammit! It's an EARNED right!



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