by U. S. Rep. John Lewis
WASHINGTON - The upcoming midterm elections have been the focus of all of the political pundits. With control of the U.S. House of Representatives in question, there is a rising concern that the lack of voter turnout among Democrats will undermine the new policies that have been instituted in the past couple of years and undo measures like “The Affordable Healthcare Act,” “The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act” and “The Credit Card Holders’ Bill of Rights.” All of which are reforms that protect working, middle-class Americans.
There is also a concern that the energy of the extreme right is unstoppable. That those who want to privatize Social Security, repeal the healthcare law, and continue tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% in this country have mobilized and are gearing up for a fight. However, what is even more disturbing is that a great number of African-Americans may fail to turn out and vote in the November election.
I say disturbing because if anyone has a reason to get out and vote it is the African-American community. We do not have the luxury of being able to sit idly by and allow others to make decisions for us. We must realize that we have a stake in what happens with this election. We are affected the most by the policies that come out of Washington. Make no mistake and be very clear, there is an effort to reverse all of the progress that we have made during the Civil Rights Movement. There are some who want to eliminate certain provisions of the Civil Rights’ and Voting Rights’ Acts, and even repeal the 14th Amendment, gut the Fair Housing Act, and abolish the Department of Education. This, at a time when our children are dropping out of school at a rate that is nearly reaching epidemic proportions. This is not acceptable.
Therefore, we must make a decision, who do we want to be as a people or a nation? Do we want to go back or do we want to move forward? Do we want to erase the steps that we struggled to take in the 60s? We have suffered too long and struggled too hard to turn back now. Too many people were beaten and jailed too many lives have been lost.
As one who almost died on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama for the right to vote, I urge you not to be silent, but to stand up, rise-up, and exercise your right to vote. It is not only your right but your duty to those who sacrificed so much to afford you this precious, almost sacred right.