My mother voted, no matter what the weather.  She was like the old saying that refers to post(wo)men delivering the U.S. mail: “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  (National Postal Museum; James Farley Post Office in New York City)

My mom always reminded anyone within hearing that it had taken a lot of blood, sweat, and tears for decades to give her – a black woman – the right to vote in the U.S.  She was not about to please or empower those who did not want her to vote by not voting.  (“America is both racist and anti-feminist.”  – Shirley Chisholm (Nov. 30, 1924 – Jan. 1, 2005; American politician, educator, and author. In 1968, she became the first African American woman elected to the United States Congress. In 2015, Ms. Chisholm was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.)

“The power of the ballot we need in sheer self-defense – else what shall save us from a second slavery?”  W.E.B. DuBois ( Feb. 23, 1868 – Aug. 27, 1963; American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, and editor;  one of the co-founders of the NAACP; The Crisis magazine publisher)

The enslavement of black Americans was abolished (at least on paper) in 1865 through Amendment Thirteen to the Constitution of the United States, which states: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”  (Amendment Fourteen refers to the limitations of states to “…abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States…”) 

Black Americans were given the right to vote in 1870 through Amendment Fifteen, which states: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” (Passed by Congress: 2/26/1869; ratified by states and took effect: 2/3/1870). Need I remind readers that there are still efforts to take away this right?

In 1920 American women were given the right to vote through Amendment Nineteen, which states:

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.“ (Passed by Congress: 6/4/1919; ratified by states and took effect: 8/18/1920)  Need I remind readers that women did not receive the right to vote until after it was given to black Americans (former slaves) and that efforts still exist to treat women as second class citizens?

I am annoyed and disappointed when I hear women and black Americans declare that they will not vote in the 2016 presidential election because they do not like either major party candidate or that they do not like Trump but do not think the country is ready for a female president.  I repeat what a woman said to me: “There is no excuse not to vote.  If one does not like the candidate, then vote for the party platform that is acceptable.”

“Silence is also speech.” –Africa. Fulfulde (language found throughout West Africa.)

“We are challenged to see that the barriers of yesterday…are not replaced by new barriers of apathy….” – Whitney Young, Jr. ((July 31, 1921 – March 11, 1971) social worker; American civil rights leader; head of  National Urban League for 10 years

Please vote.  It is a privilege and a right.  Amen. Selah.

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...