A few weeks ago, I, along with the rest of the nation, celebrated our nation’s independence. Last week I, along with thousands of North Carolinians, also attended the Mass Moral Monday March for Voting Rights in Winston-Salem. At the rally there was also much talk about freedom, especially the freedom to vote, as the trial of North Carolina’s voting laws begins.
“[The passage of HB 589] was a racist attack on our sacred right to vote, a right that was won with blood and the lives and souls of martyrs throughout the south,” proclaimed North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber.
Over the past few weeks I have thought a lot about freedom and what it means to live in a democracy. I believe that we do not live in a democracy unless all citizens have the right to vote.
July 7 through 11 happened to be the National Week of Action to End Family Detention. As I thought about this, I was reminded not only of the way that voting laws have been used in the past and present day to disenfranchise black and brown communities, but also about our immigrant brothers and sisters, children and parents, who have fled violence and abuse in their home countries and are now mentally and physically suffering in inhumane detention centers. For example, earlier this month 250 children were given an overdose of the Hepatitis A vaccine at the South Texas Family Residential Center. This demonstrates the gross neglect of care in these detention centers that these families experience on a daily basis.
Just as human rights are being violated among undocumented Latinos and Latinas in detention centers in Dilley and Karnes, Texas, human rights are also being violated among the documented minority communities right here in North Carolina. Voting rights are human rights, and we need voter protection laws for communities of color. The Mass Moral Monday Voting Rights March made me proud and hopeful to see the resilience and courage of the people of our state, which is necessary to overcome any immoral act whether it be voter suppression or detention of families. There are many in our state and nation who are not yet free, and I hope and pray that our elected officials will realize that human rights deserve to be recognized everywhere.