Kennedy P. Buck | Staff Writer
Fifty-five years ago, the US Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed any discriminatory voting practices. This Act was passed because at the time many Africans Americans couldn’t exercise their right to vote in the southern states without having to answer difficult questions from a literacy test or paying a poll tax that a lot of people could not pay at the time. Many prominent figures, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis, fought hard to make sure African Americans gained the right that every citizen should be free to exercise.
Decades later, many African Americans find themselves still fighting for the right to vote. Many find themselves having to deal with unnecessarily long lines, issues with their ballots or the media undermining the importance of voting. Many young Black citizens question the validity of their vote. The answer is yes; your vote does matter. Black voters have always been a major demographic that politicians need in order to truly win an election. Every vote counts, but a Black vote definitely counts.
“African Americans cannot afford not to vote. We must vote for people who have our best interest in mind, heart and soul,” said the Black Voice News reporter Aubry Stone. Stone breaks down why Black citizens should be exercising their right to vote now more than ever in her article Why African Americans Should Vote.
“We can’t expect to win with every vote, but if we don’t vote, we can certainly expect to lose,” Stone said. African Americans have had a long history of discrimination, violence and abuse with the judical system. By voting, they can begin to elect people who will truly represent them.
The pandemic has made many people question the purpose of voting even more. Some wonder how safe the polls will be for in-person voting, and some wonder about the accuracy of mail-in voting all together. There are many ways to continue to vote while still being safe. For those who choose to go out to the polls, be sure to sanitize, wear a mask and remain six feet apart when standing in line. For those who simply do not feel safe enough to go out to vote, then mail-in voting and absentee voting is often an option depending on one’s local election laws.
Before voting, make sure to research who the candidates are and see how they can best serve not only your community but all Americans. This is extremely important because things such as social media have previously influenced which candidate is chosen. If Americans want to see a change, it all begins with voting. If African American votes in this country truly did not matter, they would not make it this hard. Our voices matter, and our votes matter too.