Photo Credit: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr votes as his wife, Coretta Scott King, waits her turn. November 3rd, 1964. Atlanta, GA. Bettmann Archive
As I reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I am filled with immense gratitude for the hard work, dedication, and sacrifices of Dr. King and the countless others who fought for equality and our right to vote. I would be remiss not to acknowledge the long days, dark nights, and tireless efforts by individuals traveling across the country from city to city, organizing, meeting with local church and community leaders to achieve this goal. These sacrifices, some of which were fatal, were made to ensure that every individual had the right to vote.
My generation and those that follow often take these freedoms for granted, but it is important to remember and value the hard work and dedication of those who came before us. As a former Director of Security and personal assistant to Reverend Jesse Jackson, I was privileged to be on the front lines literally, protecting my clients so their voices could be heard. It is crucial that we continue to work towards Dr. King's dream and not become complicit.
But how do we do that? We exercise our right to vote!
While the Presidential election is certainly significant, it is important to remember that local and state elections have a far greater impact in our daily lives. These elections often determine important issues such as voting requirements and even reproductive rights. It is crucial to recognize that the community in which we live, work, and play should be of utmost importance to us. By exercising our right to vote locally, we are making decisions that shape the future of our communities, including the quality of public education, the management of finances by county executives, taxes, transportation, affordable housing, environmental issues, and the selection of judges, sheriffs, and countless others. It's important to keep in mind that federal policies often originate at the local level, so your involvement is necessary.
Our senators, congressmen and women, and other elected officials work for us and are accountable to us, the voters. If we are not satisfied with the job they are doing, we have the power to vote them out and choose someone who aligns with our best interests. We can never forget the sacrifices made by individuals such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who fought so that every American citizen has the right to vote. Their efforts, blood, sweat, and tears led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, which legally prohibited discrimination against African Americans in the exercise of their right to vote as guaranteed under the 15th amendment to the US Constitution.
It's your right. It’s your civic duty. VOTE!