Those of us who grew up during the civil rights movement will remember a song called “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round.” Every time I think about the chaotic situation we are going through in this country with a person in the White House who is leading the charge to turn everything our ancestors worked for around, I am reminded of the words: “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round, turn me ’round. Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round. I’m gonna keep on walking, keep on talking marching into freedom land.”
More verses were often added as appropriate, such as no jailhouse, no policeman, no whatever was working to keep our people in slavery.
Today, we could add the words such as no president, no Republican, no racist and more. Somehow, we need to develop the kind of determination and courage our ancestors had. They faced danger far greater than anything we face today, but we need to conquer whatever fear we have, suck it up and work to get all righteous people out to vote Nov. 6, work to restore the Voting Rights Act, work to make Election Day a holiday so no boss can refuse to allow you to be off work to vote. We must work to get rid of the barriers to voting.
Only 56 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in 2016, and look what we got! That has to be added to the Russian interference in the election. Too many people who mean us no good are actually benefiting from our not voting.
Did you see those senior citizens in Georgia actually rejoicing when evil forces tried to prevent them from voting? When they were ordered off that bus that had been arranged to take them to vote, they just got off rejoicing and making it clear that nobody was going to turn them around. They remember when our ancestors struggled, but kept on fighting.
That’s the spirit we must have again. Every time somebody closes a door to us, let’s unite and make an entrance where there might never have been one before.
Every time old man Jim Brown and a troubled Kanye West go to the White House to hug and praise a man who means evil not only for us, but for all non-White people, for women, for poor people, for young people and for souls who see wrong and try to right it, our efforts to do what is right are weakened. Let’s commit to lessen the reasons why so many people don’t see a reason for voting.
We must work for campaign finance reform, for more convenient times and places for everyone to vote, for better ways to fund elections so that the people hurt most by elections can run for office and change what must be changed.
If we don’t take action on some of these things, only the powerful will continue to benefit from our inaction. Our democracy will be destroyed. More people will lose faith in voting, and that’s exactly what the most powerful want us to do. They want us to stay home so that they can continue to rule and control our conditions.
Those seniors in Georgia have lessons to teach those who don’t vote. They remember well when people who look like us couldn’t vote, and now have decided that no matter what the challenge is, they must vote, and they ain’t gonna let nobody turn them ’round. Let us applaud them and learn from them so that we can make this world better for all of us.
Williams is national president of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc.