TriceEdney — When I ran for the US Congress in Louisiana’s former 8th District, the late Congressman Mickey Leland spoke of the “audacity” of my endeavor. At that time, Louisiana had at least one majority Black district, but no members of Congress who were Black.
Dr. E. Faye Williams
I didn’t run in a majority Black district, but it was majority Democratic and I ran against a hard-right Republican. Known as “Gillis Long’s District,” Black people always voted in reliable numbers. I worked hard, breezed through the primary, and ran 20 points ahead of my opponent in the last poll before the General Election. Since Black people have a history of being loyal to the Democratic Party, one would’ve thought I had a lock on the Democratic vote. After all, I represented Democratic values and, considering the alternative, the color of my skin should’ve made no difference.
Because of traditional voter suppression, we requested election monitoring. We knew any election without it would be unfair. After all, this was Louisiana, well-known for political shenanigans. In an unprecedented response, then US Attorney General Meese’s office announced that Louisiana wouldn’t be monitored. We correctly took that as a sign of trouble—but we persevered.
As suspected, there was a “mysterious” computer breakdown and the resulting heartbreaking message that, instead of victory for me, the race was lost by about ½ of one-percent! No one I know believed I lost—but that is what the history books will show.
So, on November 8, 2016, I knew what Hillary Clinton and her supporters went through. There’s no honest way she could have or should have lost. As my 5 year old nephew said at the time of my ‘loss,’ “You did win; they cheated you!!” In the face of her loss, it may not comfort Hillary or her supporters to know she won the national popular vote, but in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and, definitely, in Michigan, we have enough reason to believe she also won the electoral vote. Losses in those states aren’t without the smell of something ‘fishy’ going on.
Michigan officials admit that a majority of Detroit’s voting machines broke-down on Election Day! I remember a similar announcement when I ran for Congress. These breakdowns were in the heart of the Black voting area. Since most Blacks voted for Secretary Clinton, and there’s no dispute that 94% of Black women voted for her, those lost votes were hers!
Most have moved on with their lives, but with circumstances like those in Michigan, it’s difficult for us to believe a “fair election” occurred. Although some use these outcomes as justification to support an “our vote doesn’t really matter” attitude, but when we reflect upon the sacrifices of our ancestors to gain this right, we are compelled to vote. In the future, we MUST work to vote in even greater numbers and volunteer to work in the voting process. We MUST, especially call-out crooked dealers at every level. As the late Senator Ted Kennedy said, “The cause endures; the work goes on; and the dream will never die.”
Take a lesson from our brothers and sisters at Standing Rock. They persevered through the cold, water hoses, vicious dogs and all forms of discouragement—but they ultimately gained a victory for the moment, brought about by their unity. They remain in place knowing the Trump Administration could snatch that victory away.
My neighbor, Amy, reminds us of the words of Margaret Mead who said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” We may never know who really won, but let us keep our hand on the plow—always looking forward. Freedom requires eternal vigilance.
(Dr. E. Faye Williams can be reached at: 202/678-6788: or : www.nationalcongressbw.org)