The Right to Vote: Introduction
Thirteen.Freedom Summer. Mrs. America. These are some necessary documentaries that reveal the stories folks in power don’t want us to know. And the newest addition is Stacy Abrams’ All In: The Fight for Democracy. For those with more staying power, read the books Slavery by Another Name and The New Jim Crow. All of these (and hundreds more!) tell the same story from different angles, summarized thus:
1) A visionary new government is founded on radical new principles of freedom, inclusion, votes, voice and justice, eloquently articulated in The Declaration of Independence and given body by the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and its Amendments.
2) At the same time, it is a society, culture and economy dependent on exclusion, on Native American genocide and on African slavery. Thus, a purposefully crafted philosophy of White Supremacy arises to justify the contradiction.
3) Courageous and visionary activists edge the moral arc closer to truly offering “liberty and justice for all” through further constitutional amendments and various government bills while privileged white men who benefit from the system show their White Supremacy tenacity and purposefully pull back each step forward with new laws that work around the bills and amendments.
The conversation and interplay between the two is our real history.
The following is my summary from the above sources of this process at work in the area of voting. I hope you are astounded as I have been by finally (why so late?) realizing the nefarious, ongoing, mostly invisible forces of racism and exclusion at work in a nonstop attempt (and sadly, success) to limit and deny the basic rights of American citizenship to not only black folks, but all people of color, women and more. This thumbnail sketch ends with the news from two days ago, showing how this has been an unbroken thread from 1619 to now. Since the only antidote is education wedded to action, read on and spread the word.
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