By LaKeshia N. Myers
“A charge to keep, I have; a God to glorify! A never dying soul to save and fitted for the sky.” To serve the present age, My calling to fulfill; Oh, may it all my pow’rs engage To do my Master’s will!”
I was reminded of that old Dr. Watts hymn, as we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King’s 93rd birthday last week. I am reminded of his book “Where Do we Go From Here; Chaos or Community?” In the book, King discussed the question of what African Americans should do with their new freedoms found in laws such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Having only had unencumbered voting rights for 57 years, the Black community is yet again at a critical moment when it comes to our right to vote. Use of ballot drop boxes, a necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic have been eliminated in the state of Wisconsin, Election Day is still not a federal holiday, stringent voter ID laws restrict what types of IDs can be used to vote and early voting periods have been cut short. Early voting locations and Sunday voting have systematically been eroded because enemies of democracy know the church is one of our greatest organizing units.
As I watched the United States Senate debate the merits of ending the filibuster (an archaic senate rule steeped in racism), I was struck by Sen. Raphael Warnock’s words, “Let the message go out: You cannot honor Martin Luther King and work to dismantle his legacy at the same time,” Warnock said Wednesday night, two days after King’s holiday, when virtually every senator of every political stripe produced an obligatory tribute to the slain civil rights leader. “I will not sit quietly while some make Dr. King the victim of identity theft.”
We must keep the charge of voting rights alive. We must contact our elected officials in Washington and let them know we are paying attention. A “no” vote on voting rights should signals a vote out of office for all members, regardless of party in November.
We must keep the charge; I implore everyone to follow King’s advice. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” Politics is a contact sport; we cannot afford to be apathetic or sit on the sidelines. We must keep the charge. We’ve come too far to turn around.