Civil rights leaders send urgent message to young voters

(Photo Credit: Sistarazzi for Steed Media Group)

In response to the recent poll data indicating a significant decline in turnout of voters of color, Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, Rev. C. T. Vivian, Georgia Coalition of Black Women, Inc. founder Rita Jackson Samuels, John “JT” Johnson, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) executive director Jerry Gonzalez and other millennial civil rights leaders and social justice advocates came together on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016 to urge young people to vote their power. Several of the speakers worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and were responsible for continuing his mission to obtain equal rights for all people.

“Jimmie Lee Jackson and Martin Luther King Jr. in the end died for the right for us to participate in the political process and particularly the right to vote. The future of our nation is at stake. We hold the future of our nation in our hands because we have the power of the vote. And if you don’t exercise that power then all those lives have gone in vain. We labored in vain if you don’t vote. We come today to plead with every citizen in the country, particularly in Georgia where we live, to go out and vote. We are pleased that so many people have voted early…almost 3 million. We are grateful for that. Vote your conviction. Vote for whom you believe will take this nation forward, not backward,” states Dr. Joseph Lowery, 95, a leader in the Civil Rights Movement.

The goal was to get the message out to young people that change happens over time and voting is one of the most powerful actions an individual can do to create change. The Civil Rights leaders reinforced a fact:  young people are carrying the baton and can’t stand down now. When civil rights activists were beaten, hosed, jailed, and even assassinated in their mission to fight against a rigged system that kept Blacks, Latinos and other minorities oppressed. The group urged young voters to stay the course despite what they see as a fixed system and cities’ voter suppression tactics, racial profiling, and President Ronald Reagan’s unfair drug policies of the 1980s as clear examples of how a rigged system unfairly targets Blacks and Latinos.

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