On tomorrow, July 4, 2016, the nation will celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence 240 years ago, the day America was “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” In the ensuing years we have been trying to put the ideals expressed in the Declaration into practice, starting us on a journey for justice and equality that continues to this very day, fighting for an America that includes everyone.
Over the course of the last 240 years, we have struggled—missing out on many opportunities—to find and implement real solutions in dealing with our nation’s history of slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings and racism, in our attempt to bury the ghosts of our shameful past. Just maybe, on tomorrow, we can reflect on how far we have come as a nation, while acknowledging we still have some distance we must go.
Additionally, as we celebrate our 2016 Fourth of July, let’s reflect on the importance of learning to respect the humanity and dignity of all Americans, becoming a community that is more caring and supportive of each other. Naturally, the more we get to know and understand one another, the better we will be able to continue dispelling the myths and stereotypes that have been generations in the making, thus helping us to realize that we are stronger together, is more than a cliché.
Not to belabor the point , but as Americans of all stripes, we can never lose sight of the fact that we are all in this together. And very little will change until we come to believe that “the welfare of one group can only be maintained through assuring the welfare of another.”
With that said, it is my belief that our 2016 Fourth of July celebration will take on a special importance due to the fact that the November election will be the first General Election since the major assault on the right to vote in North Carolina. That election will be a historic and defining election as it relates to the future of our country.
It was in 1965 that President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, hoping to remove any remaining barriers to voting, making voting fairer and easier. Well, today, 51 years later, the debate over voting rights continues with many people finding it hard to believe that we are back having the same debate.
In an effort to make it harder for certain groups to vote, not since the Jim Crow era has so much been done to interfer with one’s right to vote in North Carolina, under the pretext of rooting out voter fraud, even when the evidence suggests clearly that election fraud is extremely rare.
Collectively, we, the people, are an instrument of change. Our vote will help ensure that America is moving in the right direction in its pursuit of fairness, justice and equality for all Americans.
Larry Sutton is retired from Clinton City Schools.