Voting

I have a lot of feelings about voting. I love it. A lot. Voting is the activity that consistently inspires me to write, no matter what else is going on, no matter if I worked 16 hours yesterday, no matter that I’m trying to create content for other venues. I write about voting because it’s important.

This post may be similar to every other post I’ve written in the last two years about voting. I’m not going back to compare, but don’t be shocked if my feelings and reasons are the same as I’ve written in the past.

This is the first presidential election for which I’ve voted in person. Last time I sent my ballot in the mail. Satisfactory, but there’s no sticker that comes with an absentee ballot.  I got to wear my sticker all day today, which was exciting.

I vote for many reasons. One, I like it and it’s fun. Two, I like wearing an I voted sticker. Three, I like people watching at the polls.  Four, I enjoy doing my civic duty. Those are good reasons, but they’re really not the most important.

I vote because barely 92 years ago, I couldn’t have. It hasn’t even been 100 years that women in America have been allowed to vote. I don’t know about you, but I’m glad I don’t live in an America where I couldn’t vote just because I am a woman.

I vote because I’ve been in the driveway where Medgar Evers was shot in Mississippi, where he was murdered because of his work in the civil rights movement and voter registration. We all know that soldiers have fought around the world to preserve our freedoms, and I am so thankful. But I want us to remember those, like Medgar Evers, that died here, in the name of voting and civil rights. Stories like Medgar’s, moments like standing in that driveway, must mean something. I stubbornly vote because I don’t want to forget these stories.

I vote because I believe it matters.

I love voting.

MLKJR

If I were a better user of wordpress/the internet, I would find some way to fancy up the presentation of the links below. Alas, I am not, so I’m really not going to try this time. The links below are a few audio documentaries related to the Civil Rights movement, as well as a link to speeches by prominent leaders in the Civil Rights movie.  One of those speeches found under link number 5 is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last speech.

This year and last year are the first times in my life that I have had the opportunity to actually observe MLKJR day. In elementary/middle/high school,  my private school didn’t observe the day, saying it was just too close to the beginning of the year, when really it was just their way of disrespecting this man, this movement, freedom. Unfortunately, in showing their disdain for this holiday (again, with the vague excuse of inconvenience and a not-veiled hatred of government holidays because they thought the government infringes on our rights by making us take days off….) they displayed their disregard for the great things this man and this movement accomplished.  Whether they were so passive-aggressively hateful from ignorance or intention, I’ll never know. I don’t really want to know.

In college, school was not called off, but they day was honored with special chapels with topics relating to MLKJR and civil rights. Better, but still not quite good enough.

Take the day, observe it, celebrate it. I didn’t do anything particularly special, except write this, and think about life in America. I’m overwhelmed sometimes by how bad things were and how bad things still are in regards to civil rights and racial reconciliation. When I think back to what I’ve learned about the Civil Rights Movement, particularly Freedom Summer and MLKJR’s assassination, I wonder on whose side I would have been.

I want to be the kind of person who was marching, who was registering people to vote, who was involved. I don’t ever want to be on the sidelines. Ever.  I don’t know who I would have been, I just know who I want to be. That’s why I take my job working with children with disabilities so seriously and so personally. It’s a different fight than the one about ending institutional discrimination based on the color of skin, but it’s still important. Again, while I can’t go back in time and know where I would have stood in 1964, I can say I’m in the thick of it for the mostly silent battle for respect, honor, and dignity for those with disabilities. I refuse to stay on the passive sidelines, letting other people do the work.

I’ve stood where MLKJR spent his last moments, where he died. I’ve stood where his assassin fired. It was a moving, sobering experience.  That museum, that whole week in Jackson and Memphis still stands as an important marker in my life.  It’s partially because of that journey that I take a day like today so seriously.

It matters.

Audio-documentaries

  1. http://transportationnation.org/backofthebus/
  2. http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/blackspeech/index.html
  3. http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/mississippi/
  4. http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/oh_freedom/index.html
  5. http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/blackspeech/

Skipping

I skipped a comprehensive review of February and a preview of March for a number of reasons. One, at first I just forgot.

Two, February was really nothing to write home about. Snowpocalypse. I literally didn’t leave the house for most of the first two weeks of February. Seriously. It started snowing on Monday night January 31…and I didn’t go anywhere until Saturday February 5. Even after that the roads were so bad that I still didn’t go many places.  I watched a lot of Netflix. And rearranged my room a thousand times. And pretended to study for the GRE.  Among other things. Really, the first two weeks of February 2011 will not go down as the most productive period of my life.

I didn’t really go back to work until Valentine’s Day. Whereupon we had VALENTINE’S WEEK at work. Yayyy, the single life. But really, it was Valentine’s week, it was like we celebrated every day, parties, candy, etc. This is what happens at preschool.  We celebrate everything. EVERYTHING.  Even Singles Awareness Day.

The latter part of February got more exciting, with Christmas in February, also known as the Book Fair at a local private school.  I can’t even really count how many people were in my house, because my sister’s friends just kept coming and coming.  15 maybe?  And we woke up super early on a Saturday to buy books. And I must say, it was an excellent book shopping year. Highlight? Our Mississippi, a Mississippi state history textbook from the sixties.  Also, lots of pretty travel books.

[background noise for writing this post is one of my favorite episodes of Bones, Two Bodies in the Lab. and my favorite song from the show is about to play. Hurrah for my love of appropriately used electronica. Who knew I liked Depeche Mode? I didn’t.]

The rest of February was tough.  Children can be difficult after long periods of being cooped up.  Hey, I’m difficult after long periods of being copped up thanks to Snowpocalypse.  I just have slightly more self-control.  My job is great, but it’s draining, it’s exhausting, it’s demanding.  Let’s just say my three week spring break/rest was desperately needed, despite the bonus two weeks of Snowpocalypse.

Also, I was just beginning to build a social life before Snowpocalypse snowed all over it, so I felt like I was starting all over socially in late February. Finding friends without having them right next to me is difficult.

Three (I’ve rambled for so long anyone reading may have forgotten I was listing reasons I hadn’t written what I’m writing yet), I was afraid that somehow March of 2011 would turn out like March of 2010. With bitter disappointment.  With expectation turned to nothing. With growth that was really good but really really hard. I just didn’t want to think about that possibility, no matter how remote. Nor did I really want to think about last March. Or this past February for that matter.

Sometimes I need to write in the heat of the moment, so I will remember how I really felt. And sometimes I need to step away and wait so the heat of the moment doesn’t carry me away to extremes that are just exaggerations of my actual feelings. Last year, I needed to remember how I really felt. Now? A little distance is good for me.

This time last year I was in Jackson. Oh how I miss that time. THAT part of March 2010 was fabulous, but I pretended that was April anyway. And that the hateful part of April was just nowhere. Nevertheless, Jackson and the work the Lord did left an impression on my heart, my soul, my mind that will remain forever.  Like a tattoo, but I detest the word tattoo.  Every word I think of to describe it just isn’t right. It’s not a stamp, not a weight, not a burden, not a tattoo, not a calling, but more than just a simple impression.  Inscription. [I really have a thing for precise language]  The Lord left an inscription on my heart for/with/by Jackson. This inscription has so much to say, but that’s for another time.

March 2011, you’re almost over. Sorry I tried to ignore you, you’ve actually been rather super. Keep going strong.

Vote

I voted today.  I’ve voted before, but only by absentee ballot.  Today was the first time I’ve ever voted in a polling place by my home.

I vote because I like being involved.  I listen to NPR, read the newspaper, and make myself informed.  Even when my candidate or position isn’t elected or approved, I still take great pride in voting.

I vote because 100 years ago, I would not have been allowed.  Simply by virtue of being a woman, I would not have been allowed to vote (or considered a full citizen, really).

I vote because I’ve been in the home of Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi. I stood in the driveway where he was assassinated, saw what’s left of his blood stained onto the concrete, heard the story of how his wife watched him die then fought for three decades for justice.  I learned how Medgar Evers fought so that African-Americans in the Deep South could exercise their Constitutional right to vote. He was killed because of that fight.

I vote because I’ve met Medgar Evers brother, Mr. Charles Evers. I listened to a man (who has personal photos with every recent president, knows personal stories about the Kennedys, and refers to conversations with President George W. Bush as “When I was talking to George”) talk about the importance of voting, being involved in what’s going on in America. He knows. His brother was murdered, assassinated for the right to vote.

I vote because I’ve stood just steps from where Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated.  He was murdered because of his fight for the rights of others, including the right to vote.  I’ve learned the history of the movement for which he is the face at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorriane Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. I’ve seen through pictures, movies, and stories how he and others sacrificed to bring civil rights to all Americans.

I vote because when half of America doesn’t get their way tonight, no one will riot or turn to extreme violence to try to get their way back.

I vote because I have had so many opportunities to learn about America’s history.  Through reading books, traveling around the country, meeting people, and hearing stories, I have learned the importance of voting.

I vote because the sacrifices of others made it possible for me and for others to exercise our right to vote, peacefully.

I vote because I want to keep it that way.

I vote because as a young white woman in the Midwest, no one will question my right to vote. I want to use my votes, my knowledge to do everything in my power to ensure others have that same privilege.

I vote because I cannot remain silent.

I vote because that gives me power.