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Today marks the conclusion of a tense political season like no other, with the outcome coming amid deep divisions over the country’s future and a coronavirus pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 230,000 Americans. She also intervened in the wake of a number of police killings, which sparked huge unrest and protests against systemic racism and police brutality.
By the opening of the polls this morning, more than 100 million people had already voted by post and advance polls in person. In many towns in the South, where hundreds of polling stations have been closed over the past decade and lawsuits have been filed to challenge the purge of voters lists, it meant standing in line for hours.
Near Atlanta last month, at the Gallery at South DeKalb in Decatur, Norman Robinson III stood in a line that meandered for more than half a mile. Still, he says, “that’s a great thing.”
“My parents were jailed in college in the 1960s for exercising their right to vote,” said Dr. Robinson, an educator specializing in math, science and technology. “It’s in my blood to make sure I honor and continue their fight so that voices are heard.”
Not so long ago – barely 55 years – black Americans could not vote easily. The Voting Rights Act, enacted by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, prohibited the use of literacy tests and questioned the use of election taxes, among other obstacles that had made registration difficult.
Today, as the nation awaits the results of what turned out to be a historic election in a historic year, we turn to black Americans who stood in the rain and scorching southern sun. to vote their very first ballots and, finally, to make their voice heard.