I must share with you, those who don’t read through the comment section of this blog, a remarkable post by Henry “Bud” Morgan, a retired (and by all accounts superb) English professor who taught at Missouri Southern State University. And although he probably doesn’t know it, my daughter was one of his students (that’s how I know how good he was).
Mr. Morgan took the time to offer the following, in response to my piece on the Republican’s “war on voting” :
I seems to me that the most tragic element of this voter suppression scheme is that the very people who are being most suppressed are the ones who paid perhaps the highest price to gain that vote. The Freedom Riders, the Edmund Petttus Bridge survivors, the three college students murdered in Mississippi in 1963, the numerous nameless elderly men and women who put on their finest garb to go and march in a protest when they knew in advance that they were going to be beaten severely by local thugs and willing cops, and all the others who were willing to put their bodies and lives on the line to gain the right that should have been theirs automatically, these are the very targets of the modern-day suppressors.
That American citizens ever had to fight for the right to vote should shame all of us; that they are now having to do it twice should make us question our values and our “loyalty” to this nation. In the Alabama of my youth, where voting required a poll tax, a literacy test, and a “voucher,” an already registered voter who would vouch that the person seeking registration was who he said he was, was the age he claimed, and lived where he said he did. The absence of already-registered Black voters presented a major hurdle for would-be black voters. When two of my black friends, vets like me, asked me to be their voucher, I agreed. The “literacy” they were required to take involved reading and interpreting an obscure section of the Alabama Statutes. When they both failed the test, one of them said, “Yeah, I know what that statute meant. It meant ‘Ain’t no nigger gonna vote in Alabama.’”
In 1964, when the Voting Rights Act was passed, it was the crowning achievement of brave and resolute people who had put all on the line. That a group of American citizens in 2012 is trying to reverse that Law is disgraceful, shameful, and a blight upon the nation.
“They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind.”
The only thing I can add to that is the following speech given by an American hero, John Lewis, at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Lewis was one of the original “Freedom Riders” that Henry mentioned, and now he serves the people of Georgia’s 5th district in the U.S. House of Representatives (that gives me chills to write).
Please take the time to watch this speech, which brought me to tears when I saw it this summer. There aren’t many heroes of America’s Civil Rights Movement left for us to appreciate in real time: