By Mildred Henry
I read the headlines in total disbelief!
A professed leader in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement reportedly said, “I ain’t voting until Black Lives Matter“. I cannot believe that any informed, self-respecting African American will openly proclaim that he or she will not vote! This is a gross indignity because of the sacrifices and lives lost by our predecessors in order to gain the right to vote. This misguided individual tramples on the graves of Sojourner Truth; Fannie Lou Hamer; the Mississippi Freedom Riders; Barbara Jordan, Dr. Martin Luther King, and the sacred graveyard list goes on and on.
Supporters of the “I ain’t voting” cognitive dissonance trample on the grave of my mother who was told she would lose her teaching job if she joined the NAACP and conducted a voter registration drive. She joined, became a lifetime NAACP member, and the family survived.
We survived in spite of the racists who burned our family cotton gin (3 times) and general store to the ground. Our family provided merchandise, and rides for neighbors to go to town, to register, to vote, to shop, and to conduct business. Comradery existed whereby you picked up and provided a ride to someone walking by the side of the road.
We survived in spite of the fact that schools for Black children were closed 3 and 4 months of the school year to work in the cotton fields. We survived in spite of having to walk 10 miles to school while school buses for white children threw dust up in our faces. We survived many adversities in order to be where we are today. I WILL vote.
Black people were castigated, tortured, lynched and suffered terrible deaths for just expressing the desire to vote. It was through the power of the vote that we defeated segregationists George Wallace of Alabama, and Governors Lester Maddox and Orville Faubus of Arkansas. If one of the reported leaders of the BLM is an attorney, as reported, he should be well aware of the court battles of Attorney and Chief Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall. As an Arkansan, I watched Attorney Thurgood Marshall and local attorneys like Attorney George Howard, engage in battle on behalf of the Little Rock Nine students’ effort to get an education at Central High School. Mrs. Daisy Bates and the State Press Newspaper (distributed by my mother) espoused the power of the vote to change the segregationist structure in Arkansas. These students (and many others) endured insults, life threats, personal danger, and loss of life to get a competitive education and learn that using the word “Ain’t” was not acceptable in the competitive corporate world. We fought for a competitive education and the right to vote in order to right the wrongs. I WILL vote!
Rhetoric is cheap. BLM threatens to give the presidency to Donald Trump. Why? I am amazed at how gullible some people are to the unfounded promises uttered by this individual. He promises jobs but he makes products abroad and sells them to consumers in America. How will providing jobs abroad “make America great”? He can begin by bringing those jobs to America, and assure that ”Made in America” is on all of his products. As a businessman, carefully scrutinize his business record and his tax return (which he refuses to release).
He speaks of diversity but uses the terminology “my African-American“ which to me equates to the slogan, “My Nigger,” so frequently used in my youth.
Donald Trump uses negative slogans, personal insults, and exhibits totally unprofessional, crass behavior, unrepresentative of the values taught us as children. How could any self-respecting African-American, knowledgeable of our ancestral history, threaten to vote for a self-aggrandizement individual who exhibits such unethical behavior? We should not jump from the frying pan into the fire. This is not a game of marbles between children. This is a serious world event which will impact the future of every human being on this earth, especially those of minority ethnic background.
I ask those who thought the Democratic inclusion of mothers of slain Black men was just “political theater”, what did the Republicans do to indicate the importance of this issue? How did they show the seriousness of the Black Lives Matter movement? News reports indicate “BLM Threatens to Hand Trump the Presidency”. Why? What has he done to earn it? This is not a TV show. This is survival. I sincerely hope that self-grandiose individuals will not be successful in spewing their venom and preying on the sensibilities of the uninformed.
I WILL vote, and I urge every eligible voter to become adequately informed, VOTE, and Don’t Forget The Bridges That Brought Us Over!