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The New Disenfranchisement, 6pm Sunday, Jan. 8

01/08/2012 - 6:00pm

The New Disenfranchisement
Come at 6:00 pm on Sunday January 8, 2012 to Black Bear Bakery, 2639 Cherokee (Historic Vandora Theater Bldg) to join the Greens for a MLK Dinner Celebration. The price is $10 and the theme will be “The New Disenfranchisement.” A panel discussion will include
Elston McCowan, GGA & UAPO [moderator]
· Wale Amusa, ADE Consulting Services
· Patricia McHugh, Veterans For Peace
· Ellie Hayes, Your Vote Counts
· Fredric Raines, Occupy St. Louis

The US Constitution originally granted the vote to only white male property owners. It took centuries to extend voting rights. The longest fought and most bitter struggle was for black Americans to gain not only the right to vote, but also the right to education and equal access to human services. But soon after the Civil War, Southern states began enacting laws to undo the gains of Reconstruction. Almost 100 years would go by until civil rights legislation promised justice. Now, after years of struggle, new threats to human rights are moving the US, along with the rest of the world, in the wrong direction. Blacks are a majority of those in prison — and we know that inmates are typically convicted of having too little money to stay out of the justice system. After a person has been in jail, that person has paid his/her debt and should regain lost civil liberties. Yet, many who go to jail lose their right to vote permanently — turning their time served into a life-long punishment. Others who have been incarcerated think that they have lost their right to vote when the law does not actually take their right away.

Can those who do vote be certain that their ballots will be counted? There are serious doubts that George W. Bush actually won either the 2000 or 2004 Presidential election. Could electronic voting machines be programmed to throw out votes in close races?

When people obtain signatures for a ballot initiative and then win the vote in a general election, most of us think that the vote should be law. Not in Missouri. Whether carrying concealed weapons or protecting “puppy mills”, the State of Missouri and City of St. Louis lead the country in overturning the will of voters.

The rest of the world is following the US lead in denying citizens the right to decide their own destiny. Citizens across the globe are being forced by the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank to accept “structural readjustment” programs to protect the wealthy 1% while taking away homes, wages, pensions, medical care, education and public services from the 99%. In Greece, people were promised the right to vote on the austerity deal that their government made with bankers — until the bankers ordered the government to take away their right to vote.

it is time to rekindle the dream. When Martin Luther King led the movement for civil rights in the US, he stirred desires for liberty and justice throughout the world. His dream has the power to reawaken the world.