Recently, as I volunteered to walk precincts for Rhodesia Ransom, who is running for San Joaquin County Supervisor, Jose Hernandez, who is running for Congress, and Ray Morelos, who is running for Tracy City Council, I began to feel a stirring in my soul, a sense of urgency.
This feeling overwhelmed me, and I had not experienced it before. I knew I believed in the integrity and policy positions of the candidates for whom I was walking and making phone calls, but there was an intensity arising within me that was different and reflective.
Suddenly, my mind flashed back some 50 years ago when I was a child living in Greenwood, Miss. As mentioned in my memoir, “Cuddled in God’s Hands,” I grew up during turbulent times. Segregated schools, restaurants — every establishment displayed signs reading “White only” and “For coloreds,” making sure discrimination was blatant and transparent. Voting was downright discriminatory, and no one tried to hide it. Luckily, a group of people from the North set up voter registration in my home town.
Although I didn’t know history was being made at the time, these were Student Non Violent Coordination Committee workers, whose primary goals were to promote voter registration drives and desegregate public facilities. They worked tirelessly, even at the risk of being killed.
My mother and people in the neighborhood heard painful stories of friends’ and neighbors’ homes being bombed, jobs being lost, relatives being arrested and acquaintances even being killed — all because they wanted to vote and change the poor conditions and their unfair status in life.
Suddenly, my mind snapped back to reality. I felt a quickening of my steps — I was determined to reach every person on my list. My ancestors were pressing me to pick up my pace. I had to alert the voters that this election is not just necessary; it is imperative. We need to vote as if our lives depend on it — because they do!