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/