Reasons for marching once again

Published 12:16 am Friday, March 2, 2012

Why y’all marching all the way from Selma to Montgomery in 2012? No one actually asked me that question. However, I observed it in the countenance of some. Here is a summary of my answer.

Many hard won rights secured through great struggle over long years are now besieged by intense attacks in Alabama and across this country. Many of these attacks spring from state legislatures where the proponents have the numbers to pass whatever they desire. (In Alabama we could not even debate the issues. They cut off debate more times in one session than in the other 193 years of the Alabama Legislature put together.) Therefore, it is not enough to just fight in legislative arenas; the field of fighting must be expanded so that we all can join the fight to help save ourselves. That’s why we are marching the 50 miles from Selma to Montgomery on March 4 through 9. (We call it the Save Ourselves March.)

These attacks cover many areas of life but I want to address four major areas that will be highlighted during the march: voting rights; workers’ rights; public education; and immigration. I can only share the briefest summary of these attacks.

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Last year Alabama passed a law requiring photographic identification in order to vote. Then Alabama’s infamous immigration law piled on additional voting limitations. Few African Americans are now appointed as voting registrars and Black people are being illegally taken off voter rolls going and coming. Laws were passed to prevent African American get out the vote organizations from operating effectively. Many other states are taking similar actions. Near universal voting by citizens at least 18 is a priceless right won through hard fought battles over the years. We cannot allow this right to be compromised without putting up our best fight. That’s why we are marching from Selma to Montgomery in 2012.

Voting is a right, not a privilege. Identification may be required to exercise a privilege but never a right. There is no evidence that people are pretending to be someone else in order to vote. Out of nearly 400 million votes cast over a span of years, a measly 156 examples were documented. The real challenge is getting people to vote once, not stopping them from voting multiple times. Therefore, the photo ID requirement will only limit legitimate voters, not deter voters intending to defraud. Voting by the elderly, the young, the poor and the disadvantaged will be reduced disproportionately.

It is estimated that photo ID will prevent five million citizens from voting, which is the real voting fraud! We fought too hard to expand voting rights to now have it restricted. That’s why we are marching the 50 miles from Selma to Montgomery.

We often hear about attacks on workers’ rights. These attacks are broad and determined. In Alabama, these attacks have been mostly directed toward teachers and other public employees. The same is true in many other states from Wisconsin to Ohio to Florida to Arizona to Maine. However, we know if they come for state employees in the morning, they will come for other workers in the evening. We must fight back now. That’s why we are marching from Selma to Montgomery.

The Alabama immigration law is notorious across this country and over the world. It not only impacts undocumented workers but all Alabamians and even persons passing through Alabama. It adversely affects every aspect of our lives. These laws have been or are being passed in other states. They are blights on our present and future. Therefore, we have to use every resource at our command to fight back. That’s why we are marching from Selma to Montgomery.

Public education is under continuous attack. These attacks come in the form of reduced funding for public education. They come in the form of private schools dressed in the garb of charter schools. They come in the form of vouchers parading as help for the under educated. They come in the form of disguised attacks on teachers and other school personnel. These attacks are so bad we must fight back. That’s why we are marching from Selma to Montgomery.

The march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 was a tremendous success and became a worldwide symbol of struggles for voting and other rights. Now these same rights are under severe and sustained attacks, so we must call upon the power in that symbol and the power in marching to mobilize people across the country. That’s why we are marching from Selma to Montgomery in 2012.