perspectives.gif (2040 bytes)

Now That I Know How Many Bubbles Are In A Bar of Soap, You Won't Count My Vote!


By Woody Henderson

There is still debate an uncertainty going around about the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as it relates to black people losing the right to vote to one degree or another in the year 2007. However, we won't deal with that right now.

There may be no need to address that hypocrisy. Believe it or not, we have something more immediate to confront in relationship to voting.

The actions by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Republican Party, and the Florida Board of Elections in stifling so many votes and giving George W, Bush the 43rd presidency of the United States may render our vote impotent before then. They may have set a precedent that can have a domino effect in future elections all across the country.

December 1, 1955 was the day Rosa Parks refused to give her seat on a Montgomery, AL bus to a white man. Forty-five years later to the day, two buses organized by Rev. Al Sharpton departed from in front of The National Action Network, on 125th street in Harlem, and traveled down that infamous New Jersey Turnpike to Washington, DC, and the steps of The U. S. Supreme Court.

They were going there to stand up for the right to vote. This was not only for those being disenfranchised in Dade County and other parts of Florida. It was as Rev Sharpton said "for four little girls who died in a church bombing in Birmingham, for Medgar Evers, for Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney, and the many beatings and deaths suffered by so many of our predecessors who had fought and died for our right to vote. This is more about Selma, than about Bush or Gore," he said.

In the South, one of the ways they use to keep blacks from voting was to tell them they could only vote if their grandfathers had voted, knowing they had not allowed any blacks to vote in years pass. Another way would be asking for three pieces of I D and or giving a literacy test with questions that they knew couldn't be answered, like, "How many bubbles are their in a bar of soap?"

Before Rev. Walter Fauntroy spoke that day, he stood arm and arm with Rev. Sharpton on the steps of the Supreme Court as he had when he marched and fought for the right to vote arm and arm with DR King, in Selma Al. in the sixties. When he spoke he said,

"I'd like to thank all those who took time off from work and whatever you had to do today and recognized that somebody has to stand up for the dead, and for those who are alive today and most importantly for the unborn. There are going to be children and young people and men and women a hundred years from now who are going to say, thank God somebody stood up on December 1st, one day before the anniversary of the execution of John Brown, which took place December 2, 1859."

Joe Madison of "Radio One WOL" said, "We need to put what has been happening over the pass few weeks into historical context. One hundred years ago a man by the name of James Weldon Johnson stood on the foot boards of his home, of all places in Jacksonville, Florida and wrote,

"Lift Every Voice and Sing." He went on to say, "That same year the last black man to serve in the United States Congress for nearly 30 years was a man by the name of George H. White from Jessie Helm's State, of all places."

However, during the early days of Reconstruction, Congress passed two key Amendments to the Constitution, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment. The Fourteenth guaranteed African Americans equal rights under the law, and the Fifteenth, granted black men the right to vote. It stated

"the right of citizens...to vote" would not be "denied or abridged...by any state on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude."

As a result of that, between 1870 and 1899 there were 22 black men elected to the U. S. Congress. Twenty elected to the House of Representatives and two elected to the U. S. Senate. The two Senators were both from Mississippi, "Hiram R. Revels," and "Blanche K. Bruce," all 22 were Republicans, perhaps because it was the party of Lincoln. More than 700 served in Southern State legislatures, with some Southern states being nominally under black control.

Unfortunately, whites found innumerable ways to circumvent the Constitution's promise of equality in a determined effort to keep power out of black hands. With the complicity of the federal courts, the South rewrote its state constitutions to legitimize a host of Jim Crow laws and regulations designed to keep blacks out of the voting booth and out of government. These included literacy tests intimidation and violence, directed against any black man who tried to register himself or others.

By 1902, white officials had effectively subverted the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, with the courts' approval. As a result of those actions from 1902 till 1955 only four blacks were elected to congress. Since 1955 and the advent of the civil rights movement there have been sixty-six blacks elected to congress, sixty-three of them were democrats, three were republicans.

With the formation of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1970, blacks have steadily gained influences on the political scene in Washington, DC and around the country. If we are to continue to grow and prosper as a people in this country and indeed through out throughout the world, we need to continuously increase our legislative power in congress and local and state elections across the country.

That's why this vote discrepancy is more about Selma then about Bush or Gore. Minister Benjamin Muhammad of the Nation of Islam and National Director of the Million Family March was also there. He said,

"We must be here because we are very involved in the political scene. We asked people to register to vote by the millions in preparation for the Million Family March".

He went on to say, "We were blessed to have such a large turn out on October 16th on the Mall. If you remember, in 1995 they had a problem counting us. Now we have a large turn out in Florida they again have a problem counting us.

So when it comes to our empowerment those in power always come up with schemes to underpay, to undercount, to undervalue and to under-register our strength. I think Election Day was a tremendous victory for black people in America because we came out in record numbers in fact that's why we're here today.

If it hadn't been for the large turn out of the black vote this would have never happened. We're here today on behalf of Minster Farrakhan we are non-partisans we're not taking political sides of, Gore vs. Bush or Bush vs. Gore. We're rising above the political cause. We -really- believe what America needs is a spiritual healing. Minister Farrakhan, believes what we need now is a third political force because, the two party system does not serve our empowerment needs.

It has help to set some surface candidates in the cabinet, but what is the life circumstance of our community? What are the bread and butter issues? What is the improvement of the quality of life? I think that we have shown we have the capacity to get our people out and vote. I think now we have to show we have the capacity to mobilize and protect that vote when it's cast."

- One thing we can be certain of is when it's all over it will be a white man that walks into the White House, but there will be other elections, some for city, county and state offices so run black men, run black women. If this election has proven one thing it is that we can come out in large numbers and vote.

Well, we can't allow those that would try and keep us in our so-called place'- to turn back the hands of time to 1901. Lets come out in even greater numbers for the next local and state elections. Lets get involved in poll watching.

We can do great things don't give up now. Call, write and or E-mail your congressperson, let them know that they must pass enforceable laws that relate to all American's right to vote not just some and we want this done before 2007.

To paraphrase James Weldon Johnson "Lift Every Voice and Vote." Rev. Sharpton, said that the press was trying to make it seem like there was a problem between him and Rev. Jackson, because there were two separate marches taking place. One led by Rev. Sharpton and the other by Rev. Jackson. Rev. Sharpton said,

"We can't let them run that game on us like we can't fight on many fronts. We are all here for the same reason, the right to vote. He then led the marchers that were with him in front of the Supreme Court across the street in a show of unity singing "Lift Every Voice And Sing," and chanting, "We love Jessie, we love Jessie."

When they arrived where Rev Jackson and the other marchers were, Rev. Jackson, who was doing a TV interview heard the chants. 'We love Jessie we love Jessie." He looked up, smiled, stopped his interview and walked over to Rev Sharpton chanting. "We love Sharpton, we love Sharpton."

The two leaders embraced. It was obvious the press was wrong.

Don't be discouraged because they changed the rules. Black people have always had to climb up the slippery side of the mountain.

What must be understood now, is that what George Bush and the Republican party argued in the U. S. Supreme Court on December 1, 2000 was a law that goes back to the days of pre-civil war. They are telling us that they want to go back but we won't go back, too many lives have been lost, too much blood has been shed and too many tears have been poured out onto the soil that has been enriched with the blood of our ancestors. No, we won't go back.

Oh yes, I said I know how many bubbles are in a bar of soap. The answer came to me late one night as I lay thinking about racist and how they look at black people. I realized there were actually two answers to that question and they are always the same, "either a little more or a little less than what ever that number is that a black person gives."

There are those among us who say, we need to stop marching, stop demonstrating but remember what a poet once wrote," "Upon the planes of hesitation, bleach the bones of countless millions, who upon the threshold of success, sat down to wait and waiting they died." So, as that late great black news commentator Roy Wood use to say, "Now run and tell that!"


contact us / letters

Comments are welcome. Send your emails to ajuststruggle@yahoo.com.

Remember Life Shouldn't be "A Struggle for Justice"