Do you remember who taught you about the importance of voting? If you’re able to vote, do you remember the first time you did? Those questions guided me this week as I searched for articles and podcast episodes worthy of your time and attention. Today’s lead article, “ Things Ain’t Always Gone Be Th
Do you remember who taught you about the importance of voting? If you’re able to vote, do you remember the first time you did? Those questions guided me this week as I searched for articles and podcast episodes worthy of your time and attention. Today’s lead article, “Things Ain’t Always Gone Be This Way,” reminds us of the power of voting not only to bring change but also to build familial relationships and to honor one’s ancestors over generations. The ending in particular is moving.
The other three pieces also center on voting and the strengthening of Black power, especially in the South. First up is Stacey Abrams, a powerhouse, whom I’d gladly listen to for hours on end. (I gave you 33 minutes.) Then comes the long and triumphant story of Mississippi voters and their decision to replace their state flag, followed by a digest of outstanding organizations in the South, led predominately by Black women, that are challenging white supremacy at the local level. Please enjoy!
+ There’s still time to join our Article Club discussion this month of “Theater of Forgiveness,” by Hafizah Geter. Loyal reader Sarai Bordeaux will co-facilitate our conversation next Sunday, Nov. 22, 2-3 pm PT. I’m looking forward to it! Find out more information, or if you already know you’re in, sign up here.
+ New to The Highlighter? Hit reply and say hi! (If you’ve been reading since 2015, that’s great, too. 😀 )
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers: “Voting wasn’t just about rights, Mama told me. It was about the fact that we needed to honor the Black folks who had come before us, the ones who weren’t here anymore. On voting Tuesday that year, Mama picked me up after school and drove us to the polls. She told me she had a very important job for me to do. She explained that I would take the hand of each old, Black person she would send my way. These would be people who couldn’t read. They knew the candidates they wanted to vote for, but because they couldn’t recognize the names on the ballot, they needed me to call out all the names for them, and then, they’d tell me which of those names they wanted to vote for.
I don’t know how many old Black folks I helped at the polls, only that when I stood in the booth with them, I did what my mother had asked. I called out the names, and they’d tell me who they wanted to vote for. Then, very carefully, I put my finger by each name they’d chosen. I watched as they filled out the ballot. And I’d beam as each old person heaped praise on me, telling me how smart I was, how sweet. What a good little girl my mother had raised me to be.” (15 min)
Want a masterclass on voting rights? Look no further than Stacey Abrams, who in this podcast episode with Ezra Klein delivers extemporaneous genius on the 15th, 19th, and 26th amendments; the Voting Rights Act and Shelby County; Amendment 4 and HR 4, voter suppression and voter registration; and Fair Fight and Fair Count. In this transcribed interview, recorded the day before the election, Ms. Abrams extols the virtues of hard work and makes clear the significant hurdles that remain before all Americans gain access to the franchise. (33 min)
+ Want more Stacey? She appeared in Issue #256. Maybe she’ll do Article Club someday?
Last Tuesday, Mississippi voters replaced their existing Confederate-themed state flag with a new design, featuring a magnolia bloom. This episode of Radiolab tells the story of how Mississippi finally chose to take down its racist banner after 126 years, beginning in 1982, when John Hawkins, the first Black cheerleader at Ole Miss, refused to carry the flag at a football game. Over the next 38 years, the debate raged in familiar ways, until finally shifting with the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations this summer. (76 min)
+ Note: Some audio is particularly disturbing.
By now we all know about Stacey Abrams and her commitment to expanding civil rights in Georgia. But this helpful resource, compiled by Scalawag Magazine, will introduce you to 17 local organizations in the South — led by Black women, queer and trans people, and young people — dedicated to fight white supremacy and to build independent Black power from the ground up. Learning about these groups offered me hope and the motivation to get involved. (12 min)
+ Want to talk more about these organizations? Let me know.
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