On May 17, 1957, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C., Dr. King delivered what we now refer to as his “Give Us the Ballot” speech. May 17, 1957 was 53 years and 7 months ago.
Let’s put this date in perspective. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. This past Saturday would have been his 82nd birthday. Imagine, May 17, 1957, was before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. May 17, 1957, was before the war in Vietnam. On May 17, 1957, General Dwight David Eisenhower was President of these United States. On May 17, 1957, Martin Luther King, Jr. was just 28 years old.
The ballot. What a treasure of our democracy. And yet, there are those among us who are bent on reducing the value of the “one person, one vote” concept that is the cornerstone of our freedom as a nation and as a people. There are those among us who are not even registered to vote. There are those among us who are voting as if they were legal residents of the State of MS, the county of Tunica and a resident of one of our five Beats.
With the ballot come some powerful rights and responsibilities. When we stand in line to vote, Tunicans have a right to believe that the person standing in front of them and the person standing behind them are both residents of their Beat and residents of Tunica County. Tunicans have a right to believe that if you are occupying an elected position in Tunica County, you live in Tunica County.
So, what can we do to honor the man whose life we celebrated on 17 Jan 2011?
We can take responsibility for our own voter registration. We can all honor Dr. King’s “Give Us the Ballot” speech by making sure our own voter registration address matches the address where we reside. We can honor our fellow Tunicans by making sure our own voter registration is in compliance with the law. We can honor Dr. King’s memory by making sure every vote counts.