March on Washington Commemoration
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March on Washington Commemoration: The Importance of Voting
Earlier this week I shared information regarding the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment including the exemplary contributions to the women’s suffrage movement by pioneers such as Susan B. Anthony, Fannie Lou Hamer and Jovita Idar. For additional details on that topic, I invite you to read the Divino blog.
Today marks the 57th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington where Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Dr. King painted a masterful portrait of his dream that one day America would truly live up to the full meaning of its creed—we hold these truths to be self-evident that all [persons] are created equal. During this speech, he made a lesser-referenced statement on the importance of voting. As I shared with you during my statement commemorating the ratification of the 19th Amendment, this was at a time that African Americans were still not being given the right to vote.
Dr. King said this: “We cannot be satisfied as long as [an African American] in Mississippi cannot vote and [an African American] in New York believes [they have] nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Six years prior to that, Dr. King delivered a lesser-known speech at the same location titled “Give Us the Ballot.” At that critical juncture in our country’s history, Dr. King said, “In this juncture of our nation’s history, there is an urgent need for dedicated and courageous leadership.”
I believe that our nation still has this very urgent need for dedicated and courageous leadership. At a time where we here at Andrews University, along with voices all around the world, are proclaiming that Black Lives Matter, we need leaders who will dedicate their time and efforts to being courageous seekers and doers of justice. While so many of us are still crying out for justice for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others, we have been angered and saddened once again as we have witnessed yet another unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, being shot multiple times in the back by a police officer in Wisconsin. We are reminded once again of our urgent, dire need for dedicated, courageous leadership.
As we continue to grapple with the pain and uncertainty that has been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic which has tragically claimed 820,000 lives globally, which includes 180,000 in America, we have an urgent need for dedicated, courageous leadership. There are so many other challenges that require such leadership it would be impossible to list them all. It is also important to remember that we should not place our unilateral trust in any particular political party or politician. Our engagement in the voting process should be informed by the values and principles that matter to us, our families and communities as opposed to just the platform of any particular political candidate or party.
At this moment it is important to remember what unites us all as opposed to the things that have the potential to divide us. Dr. King pointed back to an eternal hope that binds us all together as he talked about his famous dream: “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope.” As Wayne Hooper’s hymn declares, “we have this hope that burns within our hearts, hope in the coming of the Lord!”
Dr. King recognized that this eternal hope in Christ’s return should motivate us to make things better in the here and now: “With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”
Having considered all of this, we are reminded of how important it is to make sure that we exercise our right to vote. Not only has this right been fought for by men and women throughout this country’s history but the challenges that we face as a nation have created this urgent need for leadership that is ready to meet those challenges with dedication and courage.
We will provide more communication to assist you in making an informed decision in the coming months, but we wanted to begin by making sure all of you in our campus community have the information you need to get registered. As you know, Election Day is officially on Tuesday, November 3, when Americans will go to the polls and vote for local, state and national candidates. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are several parameters in place to make sure you are able to exercise your right to vote in a safe and effective manner. Here is some key information:
WHO CAN VOTE?
In order to participate in this election, you must:
- Be 18 years of age before November 3, 2020
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Be a registered voter in the state where you will vote (please note: each state has its own voter registration deadlines)
If you are an international student or a permanent resident (green card holder), you are not eligible to vote, even if you may have received a voter registration card in the mail by mistake.
SHOULD I VOTE IN MICHIGAN OR IN MY HOME STATE?
Many out-of-state college students wonder whether they should vote in their home state or in the state where they go to school. The short answer is that the choice is legally yours. However, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Michigan requires that you reside in the state at least 30 days before registering to vote.
- You can register in your home state or in the state where you go to school, but you may not register to vote in both states.
- Registering in your home state often requires requesting and submitting an absentee ballot. Rules and deadlines for absentee voting vary state by state.
- If you have scholarships that require residency in a particular state, you should check with your financial aid advisor before registering to vote in a different state—just to ensure that it will not affect your scholarship. However, where you vote will not affect your federal financial aid.
- Students sometimes think that registering to vote in a different state from their parents will make them lose their dependency status. This is not true. Where you register to vote will have no effect on your parents’ tax status.
I MAY ALREADY BE REGISTERED TO VOTE. IS THERE A WAY TO CHECK?
Yes! If you would like to check if you are already registered to vote in Michigan (or another state), you can do that here.
HOW CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT VOTING?
Two great resources for college students who are deciding where to register and how to vote are Rock the Vote and the Campus Vote Project. These sites link you to important information about registering and voting in all 50 states.
WHEN AND WHERE DO I REGISTER TO VOTE?
Should you choose to register in Michigan, the voter registration deadline is Monday, Oct. 19, 2020—53 days away. Registered Michigan voters have until Friday, Oct. 30, to request an absentee ballot. You can start either process online by going here.
You can also go to the Oronoko Township Office and register in person. This is also the place where you can drop off your absentee ballot in person instead of mailing it in.
- The office address is 4583 E Snow Rd, Berrien Springs, MI 49103.
- Michigan’s voter registration form asks for your Michigan driver’s license or Michigan ID number OR the last four digits of your Social Security Number. Be sure to provide one of these numbers.
- You should also bring one of the following documents: a driver’s license or state-issued ID (from any state), a U.S. Passport or your birth certificate.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at this email address or my colleague Steve Yeagley, associate vice president for Campus & Student Life (firstname.lastname@example.org). We want to assist every eligible student to exercise this important democratic right.