I tried to register to vote three times when I was in college. Each time I failed to pass the “literacy" test. Only after the passage of the Voting Rights Act was I registered, and thank God Almighty, my parents voted as well. They were not activists but ordinary folks who wanted the same rights as the white people. Today, I feel the scabs coming off the old wounds and they are bleeding again. I knew people who were asked how many bubbles are in a bar of soap, or how many grains of sand are in a quart jar as part of their literacy test. I remember that the names of those who attempted to register were run in the local newspapers so that, by law, any registered (read white) voter could challenge their moral fitness to become voters. The real reason was to publicize who they were so their employers and Ku Klux Klan neighbors could take actions against them for having the nerve to think they should have the rights reserved for whites.
So much of our focus is on what the law did to help to emancipate generations of African Americans. However, the deep scars are still there in the form of emotional trauma (some friends of mine suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome), loss of family to death, broken dreams, ruined lives, and consigned once again to second and third class citizenship.
This is why I mourn today because the conditions for so many have not changed that much. Moreover, the gains we won continue to erode as we see in the dismantling of the most important piece of legislation on racial equality of my lifetime.
Civil Rights Veteran and SNCC Member Joyce Ladner addressed the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights decision. (via legolaswhisperingelvenprayers)