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August 22, 2006

Why Not Permanent?

Derek Shackelford

As the national mid-term and local elections descend upon us, voters will decide which officeholders will serve in their respective positions. They will be exercising their right to cast a ballot for the politician of their choice.

Voting to some may seem to be a mundane task; but as history notes, there have been sacrifices to secure that right for people. This is why the renewing of the Voting Rights Act was of the utmost importance.

The official name of the bill is the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006. These three women's courage and tenacity for civil rights - along with many others - led to the first passage signed by President Lyndon Baines Johnson

This law not only allowed African Americans to vote in mass numbers, but also led to a record number of minority officeholders. Racist politicians and judges could no longer deny African Americans the right to vote or seek political office. The law was also important because it led to the creation of single member districts on the local level and caused state legislatures to have fair districts for equal participation.

The Justice Department's website even states that it is one of the most important pieces of legislation in this nation's history. It has been critical in granting fair and equal access for people in the political process and arena.

Some politicians objected to the Voting Rights Act renewal because it requires some ballots to be printed in English and Spanish. If this is their only objection to a bill that will help ensure millions of people have the right to vote, then shame on those politicians.

Isn't it interesting that some of the same politicians who want Iraq to be democratic and free would suppress voting in this country?

So, as we vote in this year's mid-term elections. Let us cast a vote for those who stood up for democracy in this nation while we remember those who tried to suppress that right. The Voting Rights Reauthorization Act is in effect for another two years. If we were really serious about the right to vote, then the rights guaranteed under its provisions would be permanent and not subject to "reauthorization."

* * * * * * * * * *

The one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is just around the corner. Many of us have seen the images, heard the stories, and contributed to the rebuilding of the devastated region.

While all of this has taken place, the Louisiana still remains in flux. Contracts and financial obligations have still not been met. People are still displaced, still without jobs, and hope still in despair.

Yes, the government plays a role in taking care of its people. However, it is not solely on the government's shoulder. Instead of this nation's government being a power example; it should be an example of power.

This example should be of love and compassion. You should lead, follow, or get out of the way. What we long for in this country is true honest leadership. The real leaders step up to the plate and lead with dignity and integrity. Those who do not want to lead, move out of the way.

You can't lead a parade from the back!

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