The Klan quickly grew across all Southern states and Black people were vulnerable to this heinous activity and their vicious attacks. Due to the constant harassment and brutal killings by the Klan, Blacks began to slowly dismiss voting. As a result, Black people began losing political representation, as well as the political advancements they gained during Reconstruction. As time progressed, future generations of White Americans began to slowly forget the struggles of Black people and were not as vocal or as dedicated to the plight of Black people in the South as they had been in the past.
If you fast-forward in the history books, you can see that Black voter intimidation and Black voter disenfranchisement continued well beyond the blatant actions of the Klan. State governments in the South joined the party and began passing sweeping new sets of laws called “Jim Crow” and those laws were designed to separate White people from Black people.
Blacks could not eat in the same restaurants as Whites; there were separate schools for Black and White children; Blacks could not drink water from the same fountains as Whites; Blacks had to sit in the back of the buses, whereas Whites could sit up front; and Blacks could not ride in the same carriages as Whites on the trains.
All in all, this blatant form of voting disenfranchisement has significantly impacted the well-being and livelihood of Black people for centuries.
So, why has it been so important for other people to make it difficult for Black people to vote?
The reason, to me, is quite simple. Those who seek to disenfranchise Black people from the voting process know exactly how important voting is. Those who seek to disenfranchise Black people relative to the voting process know the profound impact that it has at every level of government—local, state, and national.
More importantly, those who seek to disenfranchise Black people from the voting process know that voting is so powerful that those in political positions of power are able to direct necessary and critical resources to select areas. They are also able to ensure that select people are appointed to key positions.
Nearly everything that impacts our daily lives, in some way, is influenced by an elected official or someone who is appointed by them. These elected officials draft policy, introduce legislation, and vote on bills, that eventually become laws.
Whether voting for the judge, who has the power to sentence your loved one to a lengthy prison sentence or voting for the judge who has the power to determine child support payments and visitation rights through the family court—one or more of these elected officials will impact your life in some shape, form or fashion throughout your lifetime. Every elected official yields power and some level of influence that we as Black people should never ignore or take for granted.
It doesn’t matter whether you believe your vote matters or not—and it most certainly does—you will have to adhere to any law voted on by those who’ve been elected to represent you. There is absolutely no level of complaining or reactionary response that will change that.
There are no acceptable excuses when it comes to voting. Either you do it or you reap the consequences. Engaged citizens must seek to understand politics if they wish to better understand the impact of the laws and decisions that politics produce.
I can only wonder, however, if many of our political martyrs, who sacrificed their very lives for the right to vote that we should all appreciate today, are flipping over in their graves as they look upon much of our squandered voting potential and overwhelming collective political apathy.
Maybe this election cycle will prove to be different, however. At least I hope it will.
Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey has been a frequent contributor on “The Nancy Grace Show” and “Primetime Justice with Ashleigh Banfield.” Jeffrey is a radio personality and a dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at email@example.com. Follow Jeffrey on Twitter @realtalkjunkies.