The Emancipation Proclamation was signed a century and a half ago. The marches and boycotts and lunch counter sit-ins of the civil rights era are 50 or 60 years behind us.
And today, there are no longer any separate water fountains, no more guards keeping any of our children from the schoolhouse door. That’s a sign of how far we’ve come – we live in a world with progress that our parents and grandparents would never have even dreamed of.
But that doesn’t mean that our work is finished.
And while today’s challenges may not feel as glaring, they’re every bit as urgent. Do children who go to an understaffed, crumbling school truly have a fair shot at success? If a family has a son or daughter born with a genetic disease, should they have to fight day and night with insurance companies just to get the insurance coverage they need? Are our children falling behind because our communities aren’t safe or supportive enough for them to reach their potential? And how do we preserve our most fundamental right to cast our ballots for our children and grandchildren?
All of those questions have one common answer – and it’s an answer that harkens back to the generations before us. It’s about all of us standing up, getting engaged, and making our voices heard. It’s about getting engaged in our communities. It’s about using the power of our vote to elect leaders who will fight so that those students get the schools they deserve, and those families keep their insurance, and those communities will have voices speaking out on their behalf.
Make no mistake, here in our time, it’s more important than ever that we show up to vote, not just this year, but every year and in every election. Every voice must be heard and every vote must be counted.
Just take a look at the last election. My husband won Florida by about 236,000 votes, Ohio by 262,000 votes, and North Carolina by 14,000 votes. Now that might sound like a lot, but when you spread those votes out across thousands of precincts, in Florida, he won by just 36 votes per precinct. He won Ohio by just 24 votes per precinct. And he won North Carolina by just five votes per precinct.