Terri Lee Freeman, Museum President
November 4, 2014
It is a privilege and honor to be the new President of the National Civil Rights Museum. And what better time to introduce myself than Election Day 2014.
It’s been stated over and over during this election season that mid-term elections are just as important, if not more so, than the presidential elections. What’s up for grabs? Frankly, the future. While it sounds cliché, it is so very true -- the future is in our hands IF we exercise our right to vote.
I’m a mother of three daughters with two who are young adults that I’m sure will vote today. However, I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to overhear their conversations with their well-educated friends about how their single vote, really doesn’t make a difference. Such comments make the hair on the back of my neck stand at attention, though I do understand where they are coming from. What they are actually saying is, “I understand that I have a civic duty to vote, but why when nothing changes?” Well, my answer to that question is, “it doesn’t stop in the voting booth.”
Your civic responsibility requires far more than simply pulling a lever, or hitting a touchscreen ballot. Your responsibility requires community engagement – understanding the issues facing your community, getting to know the folks who represent your community and holding them accountable for doing their job which is to serve the people. Too often we forget that they work for us. We must exercise our franchise and take advantage of the right that so many before us died for to make sure we could be included in this process called democracy.
So while I recognize that I’m likely preaching to the choir, we must do the right thing and take the time to vote. I practice what I preach, I did early voting. And, after we vote, we must then engage in the hard work of not just pontificating about what we don’t like, but work to be the change we want to see. Vote, yes, but let’s also use our voices to let our elected officials know that we are counting on them to “serve the people.” And the people are US!