Filed Under:  Opinion

Let sleeping giants lie…or not?

13th November 2012   ·   0 Comments

Perhaps we need to add the “Rabid Right” to the list of people to thank for helping re-elect President Barack Obama. Their voter-suppression tactics enraged millions of Blacks to the extent that they registered and voted in record numbers.

To those voters and the President they re-elected, we extend a hearty “Congratulations.” They said you would not turn out this time. They said you were too lazy and satisfied. But you defied the odds. You stood in long lines for hours, in unpleasant, and in some cases, health-threatening weather. You would not be deterred nor discouraged from exercising your sacred right and fulfilling your solemn duty.

Last Tuesday, you made an important first step. African Americans and people of color, along with women proved that we are a force to be reckoned with when we stand up for something. You proved what the other side already knew, that every vote counts and that you can’t demand change if you don’t join in the fight.

But also we must realize that our vote cannot be our only contribution to positive change. We have to become aggressive about pursuing a clear course of change that we can hold ourselves and all elected officials accountable for.

We must be active and vigilant 365 days of the year, at least as active as those who would take our rights away from us. They are not taking a break. They have already done a tremendous amount of damage to the democratic process that we must fight to undo, starting today.

This summer, Ohio, Florida and several other states changed laws specifically to impact the outcome of this election. Al Sharpton became a champion in the war against voter suppression, “I knew I had to make voter suppression a focal point this summer after having an 85-year-old man from Florida tell me he couldn’t vote this year for the first time because he didn’t have the right ID and couldn’t afforded to get another,” he said.

At the virtual last minute several states changed the rules, declaring that voters would have to provide additional IDs to vote in the presidential election. They also moved to shorten or totally eliminate the times and dates for early voting. These restrictions were aimed at hurting minority voters. We may never know how many hundreds of thousands of voters were prevented from voting by the political dirty tricks, which also included purging rolls, challenging the eligibility of certain voters, spreading false information and throwing registration forms of Blacks and Hispanics in the trash.

They used every underhanded trick in the book, but they lost anyway, because you refused to hand them a victory.

Sharpton summed it up this way, “You don’t slap a sleeping giant. You let him sleep and sing him lullabies so he’ll stay asleep. That’s not what they [the Republicans] did. They woke us up with all those unfair tactics and we responded. More African Americans came out this time than last time.”

We’ve made a great first step. Now let’s stay strapped up and finish this race.

This article originally published in the November 12, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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