Peace can come at a stiff price sometimes

Published 10:27 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It was a daunting challenge.  But it was one I had to meet.

The call came late Tuesday evening:  Be in Washington, D. C. by 10 a.m. on Thursday to meet with leaders of the Civil Rights Division and the Voting Rights Section of the U. S. Justice Department.

The meeting involved a law passed in the hurry up special session held shortly after the November General Election.

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I was up at 2:30 a.m. and left Selma at 3:10 a.m. to negotiate the 105 miles to the Birmingham Airport by 5 a.m.

I did not get even 3 hours sleep.

I met with Julie Fernandez, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and others from the Voting Rights Section of the U. S. Justice Department.  Dr. Joe Reed of Alabama Democratic Conference attended the meeting.

So did State Representatives James Buskey, Yvonne Kennedy, and Laura Hall.  We had a tall order to fill.

Our goal was to help these U. S. Justice Department leaders understand how the so called PAC to PAC Transfer bill would profoundly hurt voting in the African American community.

The U. S. Justice Department is circumscribed not only by the 1969 Voting Rights Act but by U. S. Supreme Court decisions.

The Court had indicated that campaign finance did not fall within the pale of voting for purposes of the Voting Rights Act.

In many ways, campaign finance is the very life blood of voting.

Without some money, we cannot effectively get out the vote these days.

Our challenge was to demonstrate this to these leaders in ways they would fully understand.  I did my best and so did the others.

We also had a second challenge: how does this PAC to PAC Transfer law impact African American voters differently than other voters.  We rose to meet this challenge.

I was hell bent on meeting the deadlines.  Somehow I met all but one.  Still, I had peace with myself from meeting most deadlines and peace with myself for going to meet the challenge at the Justice Department in Washington, D. C.  Peace, however, sometimes comes at a stiff price.