Show off your holiday lights and you could win an iPad! Enter your photo by December 13. Winner will be selected by popular vote.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
The Supreme Court decision on a vote of 5-4 disbanded the Voting Rights Act of 1965. My immediate reaction was one of shock and disbelief. How could we in the year 2013 lose our last resort: preclearance? Forty-eight years of oversight disappeared in a moment.
From shock and disbelief, I entered into a state of grieving. I grieved not only for what I have witnessed, but for the thousands of individual stories about the struggle and sacrifice that so many suffered and for those who gave the ultimate, their lives, for us to have the constitutional right to vote.
We are 150 years post President Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. Slavery would not become illegal until the 13th Amendment, which was officially ratified on Dec. 6, 1865. Documents tell us on Feb. 2, 1866, Frederick Douglass and other black leaders met with President Andrew Johnson to advocate for black citizens to have the right to vote. Johnson opposed that initiative.
On July 30, 1866, a white mob attacked blacks and radical Republicans at a convention for black voting rights in New Orleans, killing more than 40 people and wounding hundreds.
On Sept. 28, 1868, whites in Opelousas, La., attacked a local white man for registering blacks to vote; 20 blacks were hanged who were trying to defend the white man. In that riot, 200 unarmed blacks and more than 30 whites died.
The desire to vote led the Rev. George Lee, who lived in Belzonia, Miss., and was also an NAACP member, on May 7, 1955, to attempt to register to vote; angry local whites fatally shot him. On Aug.13, 1955, black World War I veteran Lamar Smith was shot and killed in front of the Brookhaven, Miss., courthouse for urging blacks to vote; no one was arrested or charged despite numerous witnesses.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. endured on Jan. 30, 1956, his Montgomery, Ala. house being bombed, while he was speaking at a mass meeting. He later addressed an angry crowd and pleaded for nonviolence. On Feb. 1, 1965, King and more than 200 other citizens were arrested and jailed after a voting rights march in Selma, Ala. On March 7, 1965, supporters of black voting rights, while marching from Selma to Montgomery, were attacked by police who used tear gas, whips and clubs; dozens were hospitalized, and that day became known as “Bloody Sunday.” Viola Liuzzo, a white housewife from Detroit, Mich., on March 25, 1965, while driving voting rights activists to Selma, Ala., was shot and killed.
As we approach the 50th anniversary of King’s historic August 1963 speech, “I Have a Dream,” we reflect on the major role he had in meeting with President Lyndon B. Johnson, and following that, the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Since 2009, voting rights have been under attack across our nation. States have passed legislation under the guise of voter fraud prevention. Voter suppression is a great concern now. There appears to be a correlation with the election and re-election of the first African-American president, Barack Obama.
Discrimination cases filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Justice Department have drastically increased. Here at the Roanoke Branch NAACP, we have cases with a primary focus on workplace discrimination. There are incidents of verbal attacks, computer attacks, hangman nooses along with slave shackles in the work place.
Sure, progress has been made, but we have not yet arrived at the beloved community that King dreamed of. Here in Roanoke, we have a major concern with the proposed precinct realignment plan. During the November 2012 presidential election, we witnessed long lines, adverse conditions for disabled and handicapped voters, parking issues and poll worker issues, just to name a few. Prior to the election, assurances were made that these problems would not occur.
The attempt to reduce precincts from 32 to 20 poses major concern to us. Clearly understand that the Roanoke Branch NAACP is not opposed to change; we can accept change that is reasonable. There are precincts that could easily be incorporated.
The work of the task force did not address the issue of where the polling sites would be. How could the mission be completed without this critical information?
The community should be aware and concerned that no individual will be at risk to have his or her voting rights compromised or suppressed here in the Roanoke Valley. When the Roanoke City Council accepts the final change for precinct realignment, be mindful that the Supreme Court took away our last resort — the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Preclearance is no longer there.
Weather JournalWarmth next 2 days hits icy wall