January 16, 2012

FROM THE ARCHIVES: HE MAY NOT HAVE GOTTEN HERE WITH US... (via The Mother Judd):

A Time to Reap for Foot Soldiers of Civil Rights (KEVIN SACK, 11/04/08, NY Times)

Rutha Mae Harris backed her silver Town Car out of the driveway early Tuesday morning, pointed it toward her polling place on Mercer Avenue and started to sing.

"I'm going to vote like the spirit say vote," Miss Harris chanted softly.

I'm going to vote like the spirit say vote,

I'm going to vote like the spirit say vote,

And if the spirit say vote I'm going to vote,

Oh Lord, I'm going to vote when the spirit say vote.

As a 21-year-old student (on right in photo), she had bellowed that same freedom song at mass meetings at Mount Zion Baptist Church back in 1961, the year Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, a universe away. She sang it again while marching on Albany's City Hall, where she and other black students demanded the right to vote, and in the cramped and filthy cells of the city jail, which the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described as the worst he ever inhabited.

For those like Miss Harris who withstood jailings and beatings and threats to their livelihoods, all because they wanted to vote, the short drive to the polls on Tuesday culminated a lifelong journey from a time that is at once unrecognizable and eerily familiar here in southwest Georgia. As they exited the voting booths, some in wheelchairs, others with canes, these foot soldiers of the civil rights movement could not suppress either their jubilation or their astonishment at having voted for an African-American for president of the United States.


Atlanta voters sense fulfilment of Martin Luther King Jr's dream: In polling booths across the hometown of civil rights leader, the exceptional nature of election day is on full display (Ed Pilkington, 11/04/08, guardian.co.uk)
Most of the voters queuing up next to Ebenezer church were African-American, and universally backing Obama. "This is history," said Salaam Ali, a motorbike courier, 53. "I never thought I'd see the day when I could vote for a black president.

"As children we were taught to pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. We were also told to believe in the idea of liberties and justice for every American. I've never seen it happen. Now it's time."


...but the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. wouldn't even have been 80 until next year. All this change has occurred within his natural life span. Pretty remarkable.

[originally posted: 11/05/08]

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Posted by at January 16, 2012 4:13 AM
  

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