Trayvon case should motivate African Americans to vote

Published On: Apr 04 2012 07:11:20 AM EDT
voices_LutherCampbell

For more than two weeks, tens of thousands of African-Americans have been marching on public streets to demand justice for Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old Miami Gardens teen killed by Sanford resident and overzealous neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman. The marches have taken place from Los Angeles to Manhattan and from to St. Petersburg to Bayfront Park in Miami. They've included high school students, housewives, and professional activists. Yet when it comes time to march to the polls on Election Day, African-Americans are nowhere to be found.

We can't continue taking to the streets to cry about our civil rights being violated when we are not exercising our right to vote. That's the real injustice. By not voting, African-Americans end up with leaders who don't respect them as constituents.

So you have elected officials -- whether it's the state attorney, the mayor, or the governor -- who cater to the segment of the population that voted for them. Rick Scott is in office today because his Tea Party supporters made sure to cast their ballots, while African-Americans stayed home. That's why black folks on welfare can't bitch about Scott fulfilling his campaign promise to drug-test them.

When I ran for county mayor last year, African-American voter turnout was very low, and the contest came down to choosing between two Cuban-American politicians. So I don't want to hear anybody complaining now that Mayor Carlos Gimenez is following through on his plans to privatize Project Head Start, the program that provides day-care services to low-income families in Liberty City and Overtown.

Up in Sanford, African Americans stayed home when Seminole County State Attorney Norman Wolfinger was reelected four years ago. Now they have a chance to vote him out of office because he was the one who told the Sanford Police Department not to charge Zimmerman for killing the young man.

Instead of taking money to hold self-serving rallies, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson should be marching people to their local voter registration offices. The only way to stop injustices such as Trayvon Martin's killing is to march when it really matters.

And that's on Election Day.

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