Living the Dream

Jo Ann Hardesty

Mr Richardson voted for the first time in 1945. As a member of the Army he met a man from New York who told him he needed to become engage in the upcoming election and made him promise to register when he got home to Ar.

He showed up at the election office and was told he had to pay a $5 poll tax. Mr. Richardson made $45 that year but did not hesitate to pay. Then he was lead to a back room for a literacy test which was a list of 10 trick questions. The test required individuals to answer 5 questions correctly in order to vote. Mr. Richardson did not pass. I asked him did he get his $5 back. He didn't. He was told better luck next time. Come back in 2-years during the next election and try again.

Fast forward to 2008 with the ability to vote for an African American man for the 1st time. While completing his ballot Mr Richardson was in tears. He was sure he would not live to see this moment.

Mr. Richardson understood the power of his vote back in 1945! He is also very aware of the dream he has been fortunate to see come true. All is possible!

  • (Show?)

    Thanks for this story. I wrote about the election yesterday in my monthly e-letter, I call The Eleven. I realized after I had sent it out that I kind of skimmed over the presidential election and went straight to how happy I was that Merkley had been elected. I felt this was an accurate reflection of how I had spent the election - working to get Merkley elected. And yet, there is some way that my own racism is at work here and I'm intending to do some counseling on the issue. My sense is that we'll all get a chance to look at our own racism and internalized racism over the next years. It's a good opportunity.

  • SBC (unverified)

    Ah yes, Albert. You figured it out.

    If you worked for Merkley and you were "more" excited about the Senate race than the Presidential race, then you must be racist! It's the only logical explanation. You spent more time volunteering for Merkley than Obama. It must be racism!

    Seriously, man? Seriously?

  • genop (unverified)

    There is a special place in hell for those who seek to disenfranchise others. Thanks for the reminder and let's not forget the ongoing efforts made in this election to dissuade voters from turning out. Let's make long lines at polling places a relic of the past as well.

  • notagain (unverified)

    Does Bowman ever write about anything that doesn't have the word "black" or "african american" in it?

  • (Show?)

    One wonders why "notagain" even takes the time...

    Thanks for this perspective, Jo Ann.

    I echo genop's point about long lines -- Rachel Maddow made a great commentary about how problems at the polling places are the new poll tax -- in many places, one has to be able to afford to take time off of work, pay a babysitter or use vacation time to exercise their right to vote. In other words, one has to have some means to be able to stand in line.

    Not exactly full equality.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)

    "in many places, one has to be able to afford to take time off of work, pay a babysitter or use vacation time to exercise their right to vote"

    This is also true if you are called for Jury Duty in some states.

  • (Show?)

    Another Fun Fact in this vein is that at the time that Obama's parents were married, the union was illegal in 17 or 18 states.

    We're indeed staggering forward incrementally.....

    And Albert, like you, I spent a whole lot more time and money on Merkley than I did on Obama, but my reason had a lot more to do with polling than the candidate's race.

    Still, I'm completely supportive of your decision to seek therapy.........

  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it--that's a paraphrase, I know.

    notagain sezDoes Bowman ever write about anything that doesn't have the word "black" or "african american" in it?

    I'm like Ms. Bowman's occasional contributions. I'm happy to read, and interested to read, what she has to say here, just as I enjoy hearing her on KBOO. Do us all a favor, notagain, and get lost.

    I'm quite happy to read

  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    Jeez Louise, now typepad is scrambling my text :-)

  • history (unverified)

    This was truly a historic election. Hooray for democracy.

    It would be good to acknowledge that JoAnn Bowman did not support Barack Obama in the primary. She supported John Edwards and said to more than one person that "this country will not elect a black man president." I am so glad she was wrong.

  • history (unverified)

    This is not unrelated to the point made by notagain.

    JoAnn sees the whole world through a racial lens, so much so that it clouds her judgment.

    Her lack of support of Obama was one of the more ironic manifestations of her race-driven life and mind. She was so sure the nation was racist, she couldn't be an early supporter of the most successful black politician in history.

  • Anne Trudeau (unverified)

    Seeing the world through "A racial lens", her "Race-driven life?" White privilege can blind you to reality, "History". Race is only invisible and inconsequential when you are the beneficiary of racism.

  • (Show?)

    Thank you Albert, Genop, Kristin, Pat, Joel & Anne for taking the story for what it was worth. This was one moment during this frantic election season that truly stopped me in my tracks and made me appreciate how far this country had come in his life time.

    history wrote "It should be pointed out that Bowman didn't support Obama at the beginning because she said a black man couldn't win."

    I have never denied my support of Edwards nor my suspicion that white folks may not vote for a black man. Where did I get this perspective? Please I live in America. Why would I not think that.

    Progressives wonder why there are not more people of color on Blue Oregon. I am willing to put my name on any opinion I have, unfortunately notagain & history and many others on this site seems to think just the mention of race implies a chip on the shoulder of the person who mentioned it.

    I bet you believe now that Obama is president we can just stop talking about race because we have solved those problems.

    If you do, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you? Some like history & notagain just don't get it and are pretty cowardly to hide their perspective behind a fake name? If you really want me to take you seriously, stand up and own your position otherwise....

  • LT (unverified)

    Jo Ann--I appreciated your work as a legislator. Don't let the naysayers get you down.

    I am one of those old enough to remember other things than the I Have A Dream speech, like what happened when I was in elementary school. Our all-white suburban 5th grade class went to an all-city event at the Detroit Art Museum. There were lines marked out on the bleacher type seating in the auditorium for each group. I was sitting on the edge of our school's area, and some nice woman came over to me and said "If you sit there, you might end up sitting next to a colored child" (as people spoke in the 1950s). I said SO? and the woman called me enlightened or some such.

    I don't think the fight for racial justice is anywhere near over. But it has come a long way from 1980 when my employer thought I was a poor deluded girl for believing a black man named Jim Hill could win an election in S. Salem. We elected a new President because of his ideas and the content of his character, not the color of his skin. It is a great time!

  • Fireslayer (unverified)

    Well I started to go to bat for Jo Ann but she did a good job on her own behalf so that won't be necessary.

    Obama did the heavy lifting on the enormous chore of cleaning the clock of the grime of racism. Still plenty of polishing to do on this score.

    Perhaps the lib-left is now ready to consider the relatively color-blind modes of focusing on underclass uplifting measures and an all-inclusive green collar revolution without reference to the past?

    Studies show that where economic status is the toughstone for programatic focus that persons of color benefit proportionally to the obvious inequalities.

    And maybe underclass whites, especially in the last redoubts of blatant racism in Appalacia and the South can finally see that voting Republicans is contrary to their interests and that us folks giving them health care, education and jobs programs are the ones who truly butter their bread.

    <h2>But leave it to the Republicans to still boil the racist caldron- their own perversion of the melting pot where the scum rises to the top and the people on the bottom get burned.</h2>

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