North Carolina made history this week. Not in the way I would have wanted, but this is history, nonetheless.
Gaining national attention, our state ushered in a new era of voting restrictions late Thursday night. Under the guise of ensuring ‘integrity’ in our elections with Voter ID, the General Assembly passed one of the most restrictive elections overhauls in the nation.
As all of this was taking place on Jones Street, I was at the opposite end of the triangle, hosting a Summer of Action Film Screening in Durham for Democracy NC. As I snuck glances at my phone to see the General Assembly undoing decades of progress, I was struck by one thing: I was in a room surrounded by people who have been fighting for those voting rights since before I was born.
Whether it’s the judicial public financing program, early voting, same day registration, campaign finance regulations, or any of the good government laws that my generation takes for granted and the General Assembly just spent a session undoing, these common-sense, clean government reforms only became a reality because of the hard work of those who came before me.
That realization kept me up that night.
Coming into this summer, most of what I believed about voting rights was only a theory, something I had only ever thought about conceptually. Until this summer, I had never experienced the fight and struggle for voting rights in this nation. I had never experienced what it means to take the fight to the streets.
In spite of the disheartening setbacks the movement experienced in Raleigh this summer, we’ve also seen people come together, with as many as 10,000 North Carolinians taking the fight to the streets just yesterday. It is undoubtedly clear what this state’s citizens demand.
This summer I have seen that and more firsthand.
What were once just theories have now become experiences.
I am beyond grateful for this opportunity. I only hope that more in my generation have the chance to be on the ground with those from generations before ours, who have spent a lifetime fighting so we could have the chance to vote as students and young people.
Never again will I take these rights for granted.
Louis Duke – Communications Intern