Posts Tagged ‘Selma’



Last Monday night, Jeff and I were watching a movie when the power went out in our house–the whole house. Yet across the street, the neighbor’s lights were shining. Apparently only our house was affected.power failure

Now this wouldn’t have mattered much except that the next morning, since I’d agreed to  serve on the Election Board, I needed to be at the city election headquarters at 5:30 to help get the polls open at 6 am. And we had no power, so no reliable alarm clock. Could you have gotten a good night’s sleep?

I didn’t. I woke at 2:30 am, tossed and flipped in bed until 3:15, then read until it was time to get up. Finally, I climbed out of bed and began preparations for the day. Candidly, I’ll admit that I don’t mind brushing my teeth with a flashlight when I’m camping, but I didn’t much care for it in the inky dark of our master bathroom. Finally I was ready at 5:25.

Jeff needed the car, so he determined that it was best to drive me to the City Hall. We stepped into the garage to climb in our car and suddenly stopped to look at each other, horrified. Because of our electric door opener, our car was effectively locked in the garage. I wouldn’t get to the polls on time–oh, no!

Jeff thought for a moment, then called the police, who sent an officer over to City Hall, and fortunately, the election workers found a volunteer to come and pick me up as we walked toward my destination. Although I was late for the preliminary preparations, I got there before the polls actually opened. Phew!

All of us voted on Monday

All of us voted on Monday

As I’m sure you know, friends, over this past week, our nation recognized the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the Civil Rights event that happened in Selma, Alabama fifty years ago. Voting rights were at the heart of that march and of the vitriol of those who met it with such cruelty. One side desperately needed the right to vote; the other was determined that they should not acquire it.

Fifty years later, an African American president recounted stories of that event in a moving speech. And fifty years later, this former placard carrying, anti-war, civil rights advocate sat as an election worker and watched my neighbors–black and white, Hispanic and Native American–come into the polls and vote freely and unharmed.

No one was concerned about their safety, everyone chatted and laughed together, then went on about their ordinary business. I wonder if the exciting juxtaposition of our little election and the Selma anniversary even occurred to most of us.

Maybe the biggest achievement is that it didn’t, that we can take that sort of safety more or less for granted today. Not everywhere in the country, of course. Not in Ferguson, perhaps. Not in Madison. Not in many communities still divided by leftover bitterness. But at least here in Holbrook. And that’s something.

To top that off, the power’s back on, too!