Throughout the course of history those who believe in the virtue, the right and the blessings of liberty have been called upon to stand in the gap between those who would deny such rights and liberties.
It is important that we stand in coalition on the issue of voter protection, not because of anything that has been done wrong, but for the cause of everything to be done right. History reminds us from both the states of Florida and Ohio of how individuals confused by hanging chads, dangling chads, dimpled chads or no chads at all can be used subjectively to determine the results not in the election, but the selection of a president by the U.S. Supreme Court.
While we appreciate the efforts of the Michigan Secretary of State and her team, in the words of the so-called “great communicator” and presidential hero, Ronald Wilson Reagan, “trust but verify.” We want the verification from our direct participation that the hard work and efforts of men and women in barbershops, beauty parlors, churches, union halls, college campuses and street corners are respected and protected by our efforts.
Thousands of Americans have gathered in Selma, Alabama, to retrace the footsteps of civil rights workers, students, political and religious leaders.
Forty seven years ago they were led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, demanding the right to vote and to ensure voter dignity. We have gathered here to protect the right to vote and to maintain the dignity of all people.
Many of us believed that this bridge had already been crossed. We thought this battle had already been won by the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifices of those who preceded us.
The state of Michigan has historically been a refuge for those often disenfranchised on their path to freedom and liberty from here to Canada. Now we find that Michigan seems to be a bastion for denying such opportunity. Is our state actively destroying its historic legacy of being a place of opportunity for all people?
Public Act 4 goes against the very conscious of America. Public Act 4 has caused over 226,737 Michiganders to sign a petition to declare that it is wrong, immoral, unethical and in our view, unconstitutional. As we Stand Up For Democracy today, we call upon the Bureau of Elections, the Secretary of State, the Board of Canvassers and all those associated with this process to:
1. Protect the petitions that have been turned in.
2. Provide a transparent process for verification.
3. Hold accountable all those who associated with this petition effort.
4. Adhere to the concerns levied by Congressman John Conyers, Hansen Clarke and Gary Peters, and Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow to take care that this process respects the rights of the people to have a just process and that democracy will prevail.
It is difficult to imagine how we as a nation can be fighting for the rights of other people to have full representation and to elect their own public officials in places like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and the Sudan and then at the same time deny the same rights of its own people here in our homeland. Something is very wrong in Michigan.
This is why our coalition has come together to Stand Up For Democracy. We urge every citizen of Michigan to join with us in this noble cause.
Wendell Anthony is president of the Detroit Branch NAACP.