Today could be called “National My-Life-Matters Day.” We could call it “Protect-My-Healthcare Day … Economic Recovery & Wealth Equity Day … Criminal Justice Reform Day … Affordable Home Ownership Day … Clean Energy Day … Environmental Justice Day … Women’s Equality Day … LGBQTA+ Rights Day … People With Disabilities Day … Military Family Day … Affordable Education Day … End Gun Violence Day … Prosperous Community Day.”
We could call it “National What’s-Important-to-Me Day” or “Everything-That-I-Care-About Day.”
Because today is National Black Voter Day. And National Black Voter Day holds the key to all those things, and more.
I think of it as a solemn day. It is a day for me to stand in awe of the insuppressible effort it took for African Americans to wrestle their right to vote into existence. It is a day to recommit myself to ongoing vigilance so that this precious right is not stolen or suppressed. As a Black man, I raise my vote as my highest voice — one that shapes my future and creates opportunities and hope for my nephews.
Today is the day each of us is called as full participants in our community and our nation. It is the day to rally everyone we know to be sure we engage in this process that locks our destiny.
Every single one of our votes matters and we place them one on top of the other to finally, at long last, build the reality of liberty and justice for all.
Here’s what you need to do:
— If you haven’t registered to vote yet, please don’t wait for the October 5 deadline. You’re better than that and the stakes are much too high to let it go to the last minute.
— To register, go to iwillvote.com right now. Make sure everyone you know does the same.
— Then, when you’re registered, make a plan to vote.
— Vote-by-Mail is easy, safe and secure. Call your local Supervisor of Election to sign up.
— Once you receive your ballot, fill it out right away and send it back. Don’t forget to sign the back of the envelope.
— If you decide to vote in person, plan it. Double-check your polling place and vote early.
Voting is my way to give back and pay forward. As a son, grandson and great-grandson, I owe everything to those who came before. My vote honors their steadfast faith in their God-given dignity and the effort and elegance of their struggle. Despite all odds, they kept putting one foot in front of the other and they made it look easy. It wasn’t.
My parents and grandparents wrapped their sacrifice and their sorrow in a smile for me as a child. Their sacrifice and solidarity protected my Black body long enough for me to carve a place for myself in this world, to get my education, fall in love, teach, and make meaningful contributions to my community — this Beloved Community of civil rights activists and the larger community of our fragile, precious human family.
When I vote, it is an act of gratitude for my forebears — for their sacrifice, their strength and their tenderness and hope for me.
My vote speaks for them. It creates the world they dreamed of and the future I want for my nephews.
National Black Voter Day is anything but “just another day.” It is my chance, as a Black man of dignity and purpose, to exert my voice, my choice, and my will, to forge this country once and for all into the promise that we’ve marched toward these last 400 years.
State Rep. Shevrin Jones represents Florida House District 101 and is running to represent State Senate District 35, which includes portions of Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. Learn more at www.shevrinjones.com.