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.
be no need to address that hypocrisy. Believe it or not,
we have something more immediate to confront in relationship
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.
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.
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?"
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,
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
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,
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."
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
right of citizens...to vote" would not be "denied or abridged...by
any state on account of race, color or previous condition
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
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".
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
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."
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."
two leaders embraced. It was obvious the press was wrong.
be discouraged because they changed the rules. Black people
have always had to climb up the slippery side of the mountain.
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.
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
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