The Power of The Black Vote: The Alabama Senate Race
Tuesday the entire country had eyes on Alabama as the race for the Senate between former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and alleged sexual predator Roy Moore and his opponent former federal prosecutor and US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Doug Jones. It is sad to say that this was unfortunately a close race despite the fact that Moore is facing many accusations of being a pedophile as well as spewing hate speech against the Black and LGBTQ communities– and an odd stance against Women’s Suffrage– compared to a man who worked to protect the rights of the citizens of Alabama and also prosecuted the men responsible for killing four innocent little girls in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing of 1963.
The Senate Race was so close in fact that the brunt of Jones’s victory rested majorly on the shoulders of the Black Community, his 49.92% to Moore’s 48.38% was comprised of 93% of votes from Black men and 98% from Black women.
Despite such a positive turnout for a Democratic candidate in a state that has been red for 25 years, we would be remiss if we did not pay attention to the hoops, hurdles and Olympic triathlons that Black people had to go through in order to cast a ballot. The South, and especially Alabama, has a long and dark history of suppressing Black votes. Whether it was terrorizing communities with violence such as the acts carried out by the KKK during the post-Reconstruction Era and throughout the 20th century, requiring poor and uneducated former slaves to pay a poll tax or complete a literacy test, or forcing Black people to remember and recite the preamble of the US Constitution in the 1960’s. Voter suppression inauspiciously is still a problem and was even a major tactic used in this Senate election. At polling sites with majority Black voters some people were told they were “inactive” even if they voted regularly and were given provisional ballots despite the fact that this did not follow protocol. Another example of many was police presence which is its own form of deterrence and intimidation.
The results of this election alone gives great insight into why the use of suppression is being allowed to thrive. Giving oppressed people the power to vote allows them to make changes to their circumstances and that in itself threatens the very existence of white supremacy and tyrannical regimes. The people who suffer most from the dealings our country is currently attempting to hand out are people of color but specifically women of color. The 98% that pushed for and ultimately obtained a democratic victory are the people who will endure the greatest afflictions from the passing of a bogus tax bill, or the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and even the cutting of public services. Their ability to cast a ballot that potentially stops elitism and kleptocracy in its tracks is terrifying for the culprits who are destroying our democracy, which is why they are working so hard to stop it.
Doug Jones’s win is a hopeful statement against many terrible recent events, and it also serves as a learning opportunity for political candidates. Black votes matter and hold weight, and just as much as you want us to have your back the same needs to be reciprocated through policies that protect and promote our rights. •
Young men joined the march from the Selma to Montgomery, Ala., organized by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in March 1965. CreditBruce Davidson/Magnum Photos