I recently saw an image from the 1960s of a well-dressed Black man being kicked in the face by a white man. The Black man was on his way to a voting booth when he was attacked by the white man, as dozens of other white men looked on — some laughing, some clapping and others simulating fighting moves themselves — all while the aggressor kicked the Black man, who was determined to cast his vote.
The image spews hatred. It is haunting, chilling and, unfortunately, accurately reflective of that era in our nation’s history. That image is also indicative of what this country could represent if we don’t elect the right people in office, both locally and nationally.
The image, as difficult as it is to look at, is motivation for me. It reminds me that, while this country has evolved significantly as a whole, Americans are only a few votes away from regressing to a time of inequality and injustice. Those votes, on a local level or nationally, can drastically alter life as all of us know it. Now, in 2016, it is not just a Black vs. white issue. It is also a women vs. men issue, an insured vs. uninsured issue, a straight vs. gay issue, a wealthy vs. poor issue, a Wall Street vs. Main Street issue, and a small business vs. big business issue.
So yes, America has progressed significantly since the 1960s and in the following decades, but we haven’t progressed to the point where we are perfect and issues are nonexistent. In fact, the issues Americans face today are far broader in scope and impact than those of yesteryear.
This is why voting is essential.
Throughout the years, the Recorder has provided extensive political coverage in an effort to educate voters about their political options. For us, it has less to do with partisan politics and more to do with ensuring our readers have as much information as possible to make an informed decision on Election Day. Our community deserves that, and the Recorder doesn’t shy away from our responsibilities as purveyors of truth and a respectable news outlet.
Voting is a fundamental right, yet many in the African-American community have not exercised that right responsibly. In other words, many Blacks are not voting as readily as they should. A report released this week shows the African-American turnout for early voting in North Carolina, Florida and Georgia has dropped significantly compared to 2008 and 2012. Results in those states generally paint a clear picture for Election Day results.
While early voting for Blacks has decreased, the Latino community has increased significantly, as has the overall population.
So what does all this mean?
In short, Blacks need to vote — early or on Election Day.
Sometimes I am criticized for being overly critical of Blacks, but again, I feel it is my responsibility as a journalist to be open and honest with our readers. And my open and honest opinion is Blacks need to stop being defiant, complacent or unmotivated and simply vote. Our community set standards in 2008 and 2012, so I know we can do it again; we just have to do it!
President Barack Obama spoke candidly on the Tom Joyner Radio Show this week as he urged everyone, but specifically the Black community, to vote. He said this year’s election results will determine his legacy, and he is absolutely correct. Blacks should not make a deliberate effort to vote only if there is an African-American on the ballot — we should vote always.
Mary Ann Evans, a journalist who, in the 1800s, wrote under the pen name George Eliot, once said, “The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.”
Obama is not perfect, nor are any of the candidates running for president or any of Indiana’s local offices. But in order for us to move forward locally and nationally, we must vote. Blacks, more than any other group, should understand the historical significance of our community voting. And more than any other group, we should be motivated to vote so as not to undo the progress that has occurred throughout the evolution of the United States.
During these final days leading up to Nov. 8, I implore you to vote. Who you choose is your choice, but please vote!