An open letter to African America:
In the late ’90s, the Internet belched forth a rumor that the Voting Rights Act was soon to expire and that black folks would lose the vote as a result. Though stupid and untrue, the rumor spread like a dust cloud till it was inescapable. You couldn’t get away from it in a confession booth. You couldn’t get away from it in a phone booth. Everybody was up in arms.
Flash forward to 2012. Now the threat is real. There is a sustained effort to suppress the black vote as we approach this pivotal election. And what is our response?
“I don’t sense that African-Americans are truly aware of what is in the process of happening or could happen to them,” says Rep. John Lewis, Democrat from Georgia. “People should be angry. There should be a sense of righteous indignation. African-Americans and people of good will, Latinos and young people, should be saying, ‘How dare you? The gall of you!’?”
Lewis, of course, is the man whose skull was cracked in 1965 on a bridge in Alabama in the fight for black voting rights. Fifteen years ago, he couldn’t walk down a street without being assailed by a false rumor that those rights were imperiled. Now, when the threat is real, he is appalled by the silence he hears.