It’s Election Day 2020! I’m breathing! Voting is important; especially this year!
I’m a history junkie and and a fanatic regarding politics. I’ve been this way since I was about 9 years old. I vividly remember the presidential election of 1960. My 9 year old memories are of two things; JFK is Catholic and the chatter about JFK’s good looks! I always thought the chatter around the Catholic issue odd, even as an 9 year old. Folks were sure that if JFK were elected that the Pope would essentially be the President. Again, I thought this odd.
Growing up my Mom and Dad voted. I don’t remember going to the polls to vote with them. My parents weren’t overt in speaking about politics. My memory is vague but I believe that my vote matters was instilled in my DNA at a young age.
So fast forward to going to College, University of Mississippi. I grew up in the time of Civil Rights and Vietnam. You had to be 21 years old to vote during this time. Yes, you could be drafted to serve in one of the armed forces at 18 years old and yet you couldn’t vote. You had to be 21 years old. This was changed on June 22, 1970. I was a rising sophomore at Ole Miss. I immediately began to calculate when I could vote for the first time; 1972. I could wait two more years!
So vote I did on November 7, 1972 for George McGovern. Nixon won in a landslide. I still remember that sad feeling. It took until November 2, 1976 for me to feel that exhilaration that Jimmy Carter won that election. I took JJ with me. He was two years old. Taking my sons became a ritual with me as did crying during the voting process. I called JWF to verify my memory. “Yes Mom. You always cried as you were voting.”
So fast forward to 2004. I am beginning a new chapter in my life by moving to Charleston, SC. Someone at the school where I had worked for 19 years gave me a fabulous book; Founding Sisters and the Nineteenth Amendment. I read it and was shocked at my utter ignorance of what women had done on my behalf to vote. It took 72 years of women tirelessly working for women to vote. 72 years! It began in Seneca Falls in 1848. In the end, women would be jailed, beaten and force fed. Read that again. Where was this taught in my history class? It wasn’t!
I asked a friend the other day if women’s right to vote was taught in her High School history classes. She is 10 years younger than I. No, she wasn’t taught this. I can only remember photos of women in white. I remember feeling betrayed and mad after reading this book. And then I began to think about the young women of today. Sometimes I wonder if they take their freedom for granted. Ruth Bader Ginsberg paved the way for us. We’ve got to do better and tell our stories.
So today I voted. I believe this is the most important vote that I have ever cast in my 48 years of voting. Thank you to the thousands of women that worked tirelessly and never were able to cast their vote. May we never forget how we got here.
And there’s the sweet spot! Living in the midst of history! Recording our stories! Yes, I cried while voting. My right hand was shaking! That one was new!
And I end with this. . .my Mother’s mother was born on October 19, 1888. In 1920 she would have been 32 years old. I wonder if she voted? I am going to make it up to be yes! Sure wish I could talk to her right now!