“Truth crushed to the ground will rise again.”
Those words by Martin Luther King Jr., paraphrasing the thoughts of other wise men before him, echoed in my mind as I awoke one morning last week to satisfying, yet disturbing news.
An Associated Press article reported that the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan investigative agency of Congress, found that voter participation declined among blacks and younger citizens in some states that had instituted new voter identification laws.
That finding was not only what many had predicted, it was what most folks knew was the intent of these laws that had been passed by predominantly Republican legislatures across the country — a way to disenfranchise more Democratic voters, particularly blacks, Hispanics, the poor and the elderly.
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The AP report stated, “The [GAO] compared elections in Kansas and Tennessee, which tightened voter ID requirements between the 2008 and 2012 elections, to voting in four states that didn’t change their identification requirements.
“It estimated that reductions in voter turnout were about 2 percent greater in Kansas and 2 to 3 percent steeper in Tennessee than they were in the other states examined. The other four states, which did not make their voter ID laws stricter, were Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware and Maine.”
Using that information, I knew what my next column would be — an “I told you so.”
That very morning, I ran into a young friend who recently returned from the military and got a new job with a computer company in downtown Fort Worth.
He told me about getting a promotion, his plans for college and how impressed he was when he was in the company of his congressman, Marc Veasey.
Then he said, “I hate to admit this, but I don’t vote.”
As he began to explain that he didn’t know how his one vote could make a difference and that there are too many politicians who are ineffective, I started a sermon, much like a sidewalk preacher, on the importance of voting.
I decided not to deliver my full sermon there, about the number of people who died that we might have that right, how every vote is important and that there is a movement afoot in this country to disenfranchise large groups of people.
“Just read my next column,” I told him.
I want him, and others like him, to learn the stories of Medgar Evers, Viola Liuzzo, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney, all having given their lives while fighting for voting rights.
And he needs to understand that the congressman who impressed him was fighting against moves by this state and others to employ ways to keep certain people away from the polls, through new voter ID laws, cutting early voting days and hours, and purging voter rolls.
Later that day, Oct. 9, it was if the spirits of all those dead heroes were rising to celebrate the affirmation of the truth when a federal judge in Corpus Christi ruled the Texas voter ID law unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos said the law “creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose.”
She said the law, in effect, was an “unconstitutional poll tax.”
My young friend should know that the suit on which the judge ruled was styled “Marc Veasey, et al., v. Rick Perry et al.”
Of course the fight isn’t over.
As expected, the state of Texas appealed its case to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and on Tuesday that court overturned the Corpus Christi judge.
Those determined to turn back the clock will not give up their quest or discontinue their lies about the real reason these laws were passed in the first place.
That in itself ought to be reason enough to vote, my young friend.