The Black Vote Matters!

by Harriet Hudson

The Black vote matters just like #blacklivesmatter! #BlackLivesMatter is a call to action and response to the virulent anti-black racism that permeates our society. Black Lives Matter (The Movement) is an unique social and political contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes. The lingering question for me in respect to the #blacklivesmatter movement, is how do we expect a change to happen if we don’t exercise our right to vote? Our ancestors have paved the way for us to have this right and we just gone let it slip away!  A change won’t happen without the Black vote because the Black vote has always proven its political value since the passage of the first voting rights legislation. This Presidential election will determine whether a change for the senseless killing of our brothers and sisters will come. The recent Presidential debate helped me determine who is for us and who is not for us. When the question was asked about what will be done about the senseless murders of Blacks, a candidate stated,” We have to put law and order in place.” That answer alone disavowed not only the question itself but the value of Black lives. This answer makes me want to not just vote but early vote.  Black people, we better stop sleeping on our right to vote and make a change for our children. There is a genocide going on and if we don’t wake up there won’t be too many of us left to make a change.

HISTORY

The United States Constitution did not originally define who was eligible to vote, allowing each state to determine who was eligible. In the early history of the U.S., most states allowed only White male adult property owners to vote. Freed slaves could vote in just four states which were New York, New Hampshire, Maryland and Delaware.  Black men without property were largely prohibited from voting. A limited number of Black people could vote in specific jurisdictions, provided they could meet the property ownership requirement. (Voting rights in the United States, n.d).

Black voters had to prove their ability to read and write the English language to White voter registrars and meet discriminatory requirements imposed by a White person to his or her individualized satisfaction and measure. Black people were often denied the right to vote on this basis. Even well-educated Black people’s tests were sabotaged for them to fail.  Black people could not use the grandfather clause like White America. Instead, in order to register to vote, they had to pass the test that was intentionally rigged for Black people to fail. Selective enforcement of the poll tax was frequently also used to disqualify Black voters. As a result of these measures, at the turn of the century voter rolls dropped markedly across the South. Most Black people were excluded from the political system for decades. Unable to vote, they were also excluded from juries or running for any office (Voting rights in the United States, n.d).

Brothers and sisters please reconsider your way of thinking if you don’t plan to vote in the upcoming Presidential election. Our ancestors fought hard for this right and the privileges it bring. Please don’t waste their efforts. There are so many Black people who want to vote but can’t vote such as people who are incarcerated and who are felons.  Your future and mine depends on the collective power of the Black vote. Together we as a people are stronger!

 

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