By Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans
For the past two years, the concept of free and fair elections has come under serious attack. The January 6 insurrection provided Americans with a first-hand look into the efforts to dismantle the Constitution and make it harder for some Americans to vote and have their ballots counted. The same can be said of protesters who attempted to disrupt the counting of ballots in downtown Detroit during the November 2020 election because they didn’t get the result they wanted. Protesters in our own backyard added to the ever-growing need to continue the push to ensure all Michiganders maintain their right to vote and have their ballots counted.
It has become clear that those attempting to derail democracy are doing so because they are afraid of a multicultural, multi-racial America where everyone’s voice is heard. Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. We are in the midst of a fight for the soul of our nation and we must be willing to fight to raise that voice or risk losing it.
This issue is very personal to me. I was raised in a family that was very active in the fight to secure civil and voting rights for African Americans. In my family’s home, it was not uncommon to have meetings attended by well-known civil rights leaders on both a local and national level to discuss and strategize around issues of that time.
My Uncle, the Rev. Albert Cleage – who later changed his name to Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman — worked with Aretha Franklin’s father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, to organize the Walk to Freedom March in June of 1963, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. first gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech before later delivering it again to a much wider audience in August of that same year at the March on Washington in Washington D.C.
The price that has been paid for our rights, which are now under attack, is not something that I read about in a book or watched on a documentary. This is something I have personally experienced alongside family members who have been on the front lines of the fight. My lengthy career as a law enforcement officer and Wayne County executive would not have been possible if my family members had not paid that price.
So on Tuesday, keep in mind that as much of a fight as it will be to preserve the sanctity of the vote, it doesn’t compare to the fight that was waged to earn that right. If we don’t succeed in the preservation of equal and fair voting rights, the America we will be left with is an America none of us wants to contemplate; an America where voices are silenced and not heard. That’s why I am urging you to get to the polls on Tuesday if you haven’t already submitted your absentee ballot.
We must all get out and vote because the future of our nation depends on it.