A right and my privilege

 

I’ve just returned from an exercise in civil liberty.

That’s right; I voted.

We were on the way back from our home school co-op with time to spare, so I decided that my son and I could go together and take advantage of the early voting at our local court house…figured I’d go ahead and beat the rush on Tuesday.

As we pulled up to park we discussed the options —none of them are 100% agreeable to me but that really wasn’t the point anymore.

However, I discovered the real value of the moment when he asked, “Mom, is it law that you HAVE to vote?” This of course gave us something else to talk about: “Have to” vs. ” Get to”.

Immediately, my mind flashed back to middle school reports and reading exercises on Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. I remember the year they released the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin but… honestly, I really didn’t understand the meaning or the value of that coin.

I didn’t understand the incredible price
women who’d worked alongside them had paid.

Seriously people….
that coin is worth WAY more than a dollar.

This past summer, I had the privilege to tour the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. This place is a fabulous treasure trove of preserved history, ranging from the obligatory and insanely COMPLETE collection  of all  modes of transportation from the earliest beginnings til the present–motels and service stations too (I), but it’s also amazing for what you don’t expect to find there.

Of all the displays I had time to tour (did I mention the place is HUGE?!?!), the one that stands out still today was the Civil Rights display located in the heart of the museum. As you walk through, you’re met with preserved actual, factual sights and sounds from the well-known and not so well known events in Civil Rights History:

*     A full-size bus station waiting area; fully segregated.
*     A “whites and blacks” only set of water fountains.
*     A drug-store counter display….segregated.
*      A full-size bus like the one Rosa Parks rode upon those not-so many years ago.

But just around the corner from that area, just past the Malcom X and MLK Jr displays,  was the “Women’s Suffrage” area which told the painful…painful…story of what it took to earn women in our country the right to vote.

Posters, signs and in one corner…I sat in a jail cell where, behind bars, you could sit and watch excerpts of a movie based on the struggle birthed by these two unlikely partners; Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

I had
no idea.
I didn’t know
about
the beatings and abuses.
I didn’t know about
the imprisonment.
I didn’t know
about the
hunger strikes,
the forced
feedings,
the isolation
and
the shame.

All…to give me the right to vote.

So that I… only because I have a different anatomy…could get in the car with my son today and even if I do not completely  support any candidate on the ballot, could show my ID, get my voter card and in ten minutes, exercise my civil liberty, make my voice heard and pay my dues to the women who risked their reputations to give me…not the right

the privilege to vote.

 

And you want to know something CRAZY?!?
Women in my state, Georgia, didn’t fully have that right until 1970.

Yes, I said 1970.…only two years after I was born.

So…women, have you voted? You need to. Even if you don’t agree with everything or everyone on the ballot, even if your conscience isn’t 100% clear on any of the candidates… you have the hard-won PRIVILEGE to vote, to stand up and be heard and to make a difference in the long run remembering the words of Scripture:

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Romans 13:1

That’s good enough for me and this was my answer to my son. It was our living history lesson to share today as he stood by my side and watched me cast my ballot.

AND….

this year, my own daughter voted for the very first time.
Congratulations girl!

Thank you Elizabeth and Susan.

2 thoughts on “A right and my privilege

  1. Just had time to read and digest this. Good lesson for our kids and one for us as women to remember. Our leaders do govern as God has allowed and we have a part in that choosing of the leaders because people stood up for and did the right thing. They stood firm!

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