Along the Trail
Beyond the Vote by: Joi Travis
The complex racial tensions we are experiencing today are only a mirror image to the barriers placed before African American during the evolution of our Nation. To assist with easing the burden of many of these racial complexities, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1865 to outlaw discriminatory practices in voting that had plagued our nation for years prior.
This act also served as re-emphasis to the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution which addressed discrimination on the basis of race, color or previous conditions of servitude. This measure prohibited states from applying any practice that discriminated based of race and established federal oversight for elections administration.
The most recent time this Act was amended for another 25 years was in 2006 by President George W. Bush. These are a few examples of the efforts America has made towards inclusion and equality.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Currently, Ohio has policies in place in order to allow for fair and honest elections. The intent of every elections official is to maintain voter integrity while preserving voter intent. Our duty as residents of Hartford and Windsor is to ensure that our officials are aligned with the execution of safeguarding the rights of each qualified voter in Connecticut.
We must go beyond our vote. Casting your ballot in November is one of the crucial steps in effective civic engagement but it is not enough! We are also obligated to go beyond the vote by acting on our desires for a democracy that identifies and represents all Americans and not some Americans.
It is great to have African Americans as elected leaders and top business professionals who are experts and represent their companies, districts and cultures, but that is not enough. What we must not allow is for any of these representatives in our community to become complacent or lose sight of our unified vision. We must perpetuate the message that if one of us is not free then none of us are free. If my brother is misguided, then so is yours, and so on and so forth. We must place our faith in a system that is responsive to our concerns as Americans and will not allow improprieties in the criminal, educational, and financial institutions of America.
As we allow these things to occur, we admit defeat and continue to further remove ourselves from the core of our foundation as militant, passionate and vested African Americans committed to social harmony and opportunities for all persons.
It is not enough to want change, we must be about change. How will you take a stand against any injustice in your place of employment or your backyard? How will you make your voice heard? How will you go beyond the vote?
We have preparation methods for disasters, medical emergencies, and other occasions but for the situations and circumstances where we will be affected beyond today, this year or this month, we have no unified plan and no intent to pursue and promote our plan for action, justice and equality. How have we collectively shown dedication to OUR CAUSE and to OUR PEOPLE?
We speak out about everything in this world that we can’t control. After years of struggle we have the power and we don’t know what to do with it. We have the leaders and we don’t know how to ensure the interest of the people are protected. The struggle is not just for old people or young people-it is for all people. Tomorrow is too late for what we must do today.