My great-grandmother and grandmother lived through the Women’s Suffrage Movement, legalized segregation and Brown vs. Board of Education. They drank from “Coloreds only” water fountains, didn’t have the right to vote and lacked real leadership and career opportunities not only because they were black, but also because they were women.
In their lifetime, my great-grandmother, who died just shy of her 100th birthday, and grandmother were able to vote after years of fighting for this basic civic right. Their experience shaped my families’ political activism. They correctly saw voting as a way to improve their schools, economic situations and communities.
My mother believed so strongly in the power of voting that on the day I turned 18, she drove me down to City Hall and had me register, and she called me every Election Day to remind me to cast my ballot. My own activism and work with Higher Heights is a result of the examples set by the three generations of women who held sway over my life. Their teachings, along with my own experiences, drive my work to increase black women’s political involvement so we can have a place at the decision-makers’ table and are able to advance progressive public policies.
This November 4th will be the first Election Day that I will vote since my mother passed away in April. I will surely miss hearing her voice, but will proudly cast my vote in her memory.
Black women must show up to the polls on Tuesday if we truly want to create a more representative political body that will fight for pay equity, health care access, improved educational opportunities and other issues that affect black women on a daily basis. We must do this for the generations before us that couldn’t and for the ones that will follow in our footsteps. That’s why I will vote on November 4th.
Glynda Carr is co-founder of Higher Heights, an organization building a national infrastructure to harness Black women’s political power and leadership potential. Follow @higherheights4 and #blackwomenvote on Twitter for more information.