My mother got to vote in one last presidential election (2012) before she passed away at 92 years of age. Voting was extrememly important to her, and she did her civic duty with pride and with enthusiasm. I will never forget seeing her hunched over her walker that last time, an elderly southern white woman in a sea of African American voters, filling out her ballot and then excitedly proclaiming to everyone who would listen that she had voted for her president, President Obama. It was such a beautiful thing, and as I looked around the polling station, I could see that several people were touched by her patriotism. She was on Cloud Nine, beaming like it was Christmas morning.
A life-long Democrat, she told me that Grandma was a Democrat and Grandpa was a Republican, and that they would happily ‘cancel’ each other’s vote out on Election Day. Early this morning as I cast my vote, I felt grateful that I have the right to vote…and I couldn’t help but think of my mom and be thankful for the great example she set of being a good citizen.
Ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote—a right known as woman suffrage, and that, sadly, did not include the right for women of color to vote. My mom was born in 1921, just one year later. The more I think about that, how it must have felt for my grandmothers to be able to vote for the first time, the more I cherish my own right to vote. I love my country, for all its foibles and imperfections. My father and my oldest brother served in numerous wars and earned Purple Hearts for their sacrifices. I, like my mother and father before me, am a patriot, quietly standing up for what I believe with my vote, with the greatest respect and reference for the process. A long line of people before me fought for me to have that right, and I will never take it for granted.
This one was for you, Momma.