At the Polls: Numbers Don’t Mean Anything if You Can’t Use Them Wisely

Man leaning on wall with cell phone in hand

“We’ve got the numbers, all we have to do is turn out at the polls on Election Day.”

This one-sentence statement has been heard over and over again in the Black community – in full-blown discussions, or talked about in one-on-one conversations.

The statement, of course, is made in reference to the large number of Blacks who are on the voter registration rolls in Chicago, are eligible to vote in any election – and can just about call the shots in citywide races.

There’s validity in the last part of the sentence: “All we have to do is turn out at the polls on Election Day” to consummate victory. The fact of the matter is, numbers don’t mean anything if they’re not used wisely! Blacks do have the numbers, but there are some Black voters who find it more convenient to stay at home on election day – either they go fishing (boycott the polls) or they use election day as a means to an end, to do those other things that they deem important.

What could be more important than exercising the right to vote at the polls on Election Day, unless there is something that is tantamount to an absolute emergency? Other than that (emergency), if Blacks fail to go to the polls and vote, it is a sad commentary on Blacks’ history as people in this country. History records that hundreds of years ago “Negroes” didn’t have the right to vote for anything. They made no decisions as to how government was run, notwithstanding decisions on whether they would be a free man/woman in this country, which recognized them as three-fifths of a person.

It is a known fact that Black forefathers in this country fought, bled, and died, in their struggle to gain the right to vote, something that modern-day Blacks now take for granted.

The Civil Rights Act of 1866 overturned the Dred Scott Decision and gave Blacks full and equal benefit of the law as any other citizen.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 guaranteed all citizens the right to vote in national elections; access to public accommodations, facilities, and education; and equal opportunity to secure employment and participate in federal assistance programs.

The 14th Amendment was designed to help former slaves to gain full status as citizens and prevent state action discriminating against them.

The 13th Amendment approved on January 31, 1865, abolished slavery throughout the United States.

The 24th Amendment was ratified on January 1964, which prohibited the poll tax – an impediment to Blacks voting in federal elections.

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation which suspended literacy and other tests for voter qualification. Under the guidelines of this legislation, federal examiners could go into any country and register voters who lodged discrimination complaints.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1966 also ruled against the constitutionality of poll taxes as a tool for voting requirement in local and state elections.

It’s apparent that all of these things in the way of legislation were not put into place overnight. And as dismal as things were for “Negroes” hundreds of years ago, they found solace in their songs. One such song was “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.” There were troubling times, there were troubling minds, and there were many problems.

It is important that they exercise their right to vote, and vote for those persons, regardless of race, color, or creed, whom they feel are qualified for the jobs, and will make a difference – for the better – in the city of Chicago. Those persons who are concerned, not just about one faction or segment of this city, but are concerned about every faction of this city, every segment of this city, and believe in fair, open and participatory government.

So, rather than talk and boast about the numbers (Blacks on the voter registration roll), it’s time to make those numbers work. This is where Black leadership has failed! They have failed to organize their communities; they have also failed in the coordination and registration of potential voters.

Talk comes cheap, it’s results that count! Numbers don’t mean anything if you can’t use them wisely!