People Died, But Did You VOTE?
"I gave a little blood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge to dramatize to the nation that people of color were denied the right to vote. I was hit in the head by a State Trooper with a nightstick. I thought I saw death. I thought I was going to die. Today, thousands of Americans are still being denied the right to vote, and the protections granted by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are being eroded. We can do better, and we must do better. We must honor the sacrifices of all those who marched, sacrificed, bled, and died, by restoring the Voting Rights Act and guaranteeing that no person is denied their right to vote." - the late Congressman John Lewis
Today is Election Day 2020. Of my 52 years on this earth, this is by far the most important election. I woke up thinking about the ancestors and elders who fought and died to have the right to cast my vote. Voting is a privilege.
While there are some states suppressing votes (I.D, felony convictions, limited poll places, etc.), we owe it to the past that paid the price with their blood, sweat, tears, marches, walking several miles, and even death, not to be silent, but exercise the right to vote.
While standing in line for two hours reading "Mark Clark: Soul of a Black Panther," by his sister Gloria Clark Jackson, I felt proud of casting my vote. If you don't vote, shame on you.
Before you complain, I have a question to ask you, "But Did You Vote?"
On Election Day, remember some of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for African Americans' right to vote.
JULIUS "JULY" PERRY
(Credit: Orlando Sentinel/Associated Press)
Julius "July" Perry was one of 50 residents of Ocoee, FL, that was lynched trying to vote. He was a barber, deacon, and activist in the Ocoee community. A July Perry marker was installed in 2019.
July Perry is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Orlando, FL, in the black section of Section K's cemetery. His grave was unmarked until 2002, when a headstone was installed.
(Credit: Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University)i
On March 25, 1965, Viola Liuzzo was murdered after participating in the Freedom March from Selma to Montgomery. While taking an activist home, Leroy Moten, who is African American, a car pulled up, shot, and killed Liuzzo. When the klansmen checked the car, Moten pretended to be dead.
(Location where Viola Liuzzo was murdered.)
The FBI arrested four men; one was an FBI agent, Gary Thomas Rowe, Jr. Rowe later testified against the three klansmen. They were acquitted by an all-white jury but was later convicted of federal civil rights violations.
Liuzzo is buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield, MI.
Maceo Snipes, a World War II veteran, faced racism and segregation while serving his country, was murdered on July 18, 1946, for exercising his right to vote in Georgia. He was shot to death by the KKK in front of his family's home. He was the first African American in Taylor County, GA, to vote.
In 2007 he received a military burial, with an empty casket at a church cemetery. His body is buried somewhere in an unmarked grave in Taylor County. There are efforts to locate his remains.
REV. GEORGE W. LEE
Rev. George Washington Lee, entrepreneur and minister was one of the first African Americans registered to vote in Humphreys County, MS since Reconstruction and leader of the NAACP in Belzoni, MS.
Lee was murderd May 7, 1955 after refusing to remove his name from the voting rolls. While Lee was driving, a convertible pulled up and fired three shots hitting Lee in the jaw. Lee died before he made it to the hospital.
Robert W. Lee is buried Green Grove Baptist Church cemetery.
(Credit: Zinnprojected. org/Jet Magazine - May 26, 1955.
VERNON DAHMER, SR.
"If you don’t vote, you don't count,"
January 10, 1966, Vernon Dahmer, Sr., president of the NAACP in Hattiesburg, MS, was murdered for encouraging African Americans to vote by the KKK. His home, car and family grocery store was set on fire and bombed. His wife and children were able to escape, but Dahmer was severly burned from the waist up and the flames seared his lungs while making sure his family made it out of the house safely. He died the following day.
(Credit: Associated Press)
Dahmer, is buried at Shady Grove Baptist Church Cemetery in Eastabuchie, MS.
hie, Jones County, Mississippi