Written by, First Lady Michelle Obleton
From the 1890s to the 1960s, many state governments in the Southern United States administered literacy tests to prospective voters, purportedly to test their literacy in order to vote. The “jellybeans test” was a technique used during the Jim Crow era, in which the registrar would ask Black voters to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar. If Blacks guessed incorrectly – of course ANYBODY would — then they were denied the right to vote. And while Blacks went through hell, whites were given exemptions. Whites could bypass the literacy test if they could meet alternate requirements that typically excluded blacks, such as a grandfather clause, or a finding of “good moral character.” The character witness was usually another white person, more than likely a post-Civil War Southerner who was against any non-whites’ voting privileges. These so-called literacy tests, along with poll taxes, residency and property restrictions, were commonly used to disenfranchise African Americans and deny suffrage. And when that didn’t work, there was violence, intimidation and death. Still, Blacks continued to fearlessly fight for their rights and thanks to organized protests, an unwillingness to give up and MEDIA, laws began to change.
Here we are in 2020, We may no longer have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to be able to cast a ballot, but we still face many obstacles concerning change in America. There are those in power working over-time to discourage people from voting by closing polling locations in minority neighborhoods and cities and undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to an election that’s going to be dependent on mail-in ballots. The planned widespread use of mail-in voting necessitated by the current global COVID-19/ coronavirus pandemic is under scrutiny and “poll watching” is being ramped up in key areas. Poll watching is a long-standing practice in which observers monitor how ballots are cast, the testing of equipment and counting procedures — looking for irregularities. They also challenge the eligibility of individual voters.
The man Jim Crow may be dead, but the practices are still alive. We must vote to eliminate the escalation of these practices in America. Decisions of life and the pursuit of happiness is directly formed by those who show up at the polls. If you don’t vote you should not complain of the disparity we face moving forward. The Late John Lewis said, “The vote is the most powerful non-violent tool we have”. If you have already cast your vote, mail-in or early, I thank you. Now, use these remaining days, finding those that have not and encourage them to do the same.
Many marched, many were beaten, and many died so you could have a voice. Who you choose is up to you, but please VOTE.
All Eyes are on November the 3rd, make sure you are doing your part and the part of others. Its All About the VOTE.
Prayers & Love,