This November Feels Like A March To Me

If Black Lives, Reproductive Freedom And Voter Suppression Matter, Don’t Just Vote Biden and Harris To The White House, Vote Democrats To The Georgia State House

Marches, I’ve missed a few, but this November feels like a march to me.

I missed the Black Lives Matter marches in May but I won’t miss the one in November. Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and the white woman who may or may not have been named Karen who falsely accused the black bird watcher, awakened the collective consciousness of quarantined communities across the country and the world.

Black lives matter, they shouted because Black lives didn’t, they realized.

They marched around the world. They marched around the country. And from me, they marched around the corner. America too it seemed turned a corner, from denial to begrudging recognition. The marches were empowering. They changed minds. They changed hearts. Now it’s time to change lives. Now it’s time to change laws.

In November’s march, I not only get to shout that Black lives matter, I get to vote that Black lives matter. I get to empower policies that effectuate what may otherwise be impotent protestation. Awareness is a great response to pain only insofar as it leads to reckoning.

May’s marches helped with awareness. November’s march will help with reckoning.

In response, Democrats in the Georgia State House introduced the Georgia Justice Act, the most comprehensive and consequential criminal justice reform legislation in decades. While Democrats and many Republicans joined each other on Awareness Avenue, when Democrats turned the corner onto Reckoning Way, Republicans didn’t merge. Instead, they erected roadblocks.

Among its provisions, the Georgia Justice Act:

· Requires police to wear AND use body cameras

· Limits no knock warrants

· Places common sense limits on stand your ground law

· Requires special prosecutors in officer involved shootings

· Allows those with certain non violent drug offenses to vote

· Removes qualified immunity from police officers

· Bans chokeholds

· Ends militarized police

· Requires that police reports be signed under the penalty of perjury

· Reduces marijuana penalties

For the sake of Black lives, the stakes could not be greater. As important as it is to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House, it’s equally important to elect Angelika Kausche and Michelle Au and Sarah Beeson and other Democrats seeking to retain or flip seats in the State House. As important as were the marches in May, equally important is the march in November.

I missed the women’s march in 2017 and the women’s march in 2020 but this November feels like a march to me.

I not only get to shout that a woman’s reproductive freedom should be sacred, I get to disempower Republicans who seek to disempower women. Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death likely means the death of Roe v. Wade. Its death will empower states to end safe and legal abortions, forcing women who can’t travel to progressive states into underground and likely dangerous procedures performed by unlicensed “doctors.”

We don’t have to wonder what Georgia Republicans would do if so empowered.

In 2019 they passed a law prohibiting abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy, often before a woman could confirm her pregnancy. In July of this year, Roe’s protections forced a federal judge to rule that Georgia’s law was unconstitutional. Roe’s likely death heightens the urgency to elect Democrats to the State House. Without Roe, the courts cannot protect Georgia’s women from Georgia’s Republicans.

For the sake of safe and legal abortions, the stakes cannot be greater. As important as it is to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House, it’s equally important to elect Anthia Carter and Jason Hayes and Shea Roberts and other Democrats seeking to retain or flip seats in the State House. As important as were the marches in 2017 and 2020, equally important is the march in November.

I missed the voting rights marches with my grandfather but this November feels like a march to me.

He was the first black person registered to vote in his Louisiana parish (county). He led marches, sometimes bloody, fighting for the right to vote. Ultimately he sued in federal court until the registrar personally came to my grandfather’s house to register him. The rights for which he fought and for which some died are under Republican attack and we no longer have the protections of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

When the Supreme Court ruled that states no longer had to seek Justice Department preclearance before enacting laws that impacted voting rights, it empowered Republican lawmakers to enact laws and restrictions for the sole purpose of suppressing the black vote. One Judge said they targeted the black community with “almost surgical precision.”

In Georgia, Republicans closed polling locations leading to longer lines and purged hundred of thousands of voters from voter rolls. Those tactics are minor in comparison to what is ahead in 2021. With reapportionment and redistricting, the process following the census where legislators redraw federal, state and local political lines, it is critical that Democrats control at least one chamber of the Georgia legislature to prevent further surgically precise targeting.

Otherwise, Georgia’s Republicans will gerrymander districts to further dilute black voting strength. Packing, is a common tactic they use. They pack overwhelmingly large numbers of black voters in few districts to limit the overall representation of black voters throughout a state so as to ensure more Republican districts.

The right to vote is the mother of all rights. From it, births possibilities of all others. Among the possibilities, as prioritized by Georgia Democrats are ending cash bail, ending campus carry, expanding Medicaid, raising the minimum wage and ending citizen’s arrests. If Republicans have sole control of redistricting, they will draw lines to perpetuate themselves, multiply their power and keep their knee on the neck of progressive reforms Georgians need and support.

For the sake of fighting voter suppression, the stakes cannot be greater. As important as it is to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House, it’s equally important to elect Beth Moore and Mary Robinchaux and Josh McLaurin and other Democrats seeking to retain or flip seats in the State House. As important as were the marches my grandfather led, equally important is the march in November.

Marches are exciting. They are immediate. People get to take to the streets and fight the power. Voting is not exciting. Sometimes it takes several cycles to effect change. Yet voting is the culmination of the marches. People not only get to fight the power, they get to be the power.

Marches, I’ve missed a few, but this November feels like a march to me.

A husband. A father. A former member of the Georgia House of Representatives. A former judge. Now, an indigent defense attorney winning unwinnable trials.

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