By DEBBRA SWEAT

For Rantoul Press

Today, blacks still encounter roadblocks from going to the polls. Historically, voter suppression tactics used were poll taxes, literacy tests, threats, fear and intimidation.

Now, strategic gerrymandering, stringent identification and closing precincts in high minority neighborhoods adds to the list. However, the greatest roadblock is our own apathy.  

Our ancestors led and fought the battles for freedom from captivity and enslavement, to be acknowledged as equals in this country, equality in education, the right to vote and for civil/equal rights under the law.

Ratified in 1870 the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted voting rights could not be denied based on race, color or previous servitude. This removed one stain on our nation and solidified this blessing of American citizenship and inalienable rights.

On Aug. 6, 2018, we celebrated the 53rd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which attempted to further eliminate barriers which kept blacks from exercising their right to vote.

I have witnessed the subtle comments and inferences made regarding minority citizens of this community. The perception is they do not register to vote, feel compelled or have a sense of obligation to make it the polls or bring much to the community. There is a notion of exclusion and dismissal.

Why demonstrate your indifference by not registering and voting for candidates who want to serve the public and this country, uphold the spirit of the constitution, stand for diversity and inclusion, embody social reform as well as mandate respect, equality, and civil rights for all?

Remember, change begins at the local level. There are candidates seeking office at the village, county and state level on the Nov. 6 ballot as well as local referenda.  

Educate yourself on the candidates, their platforms and local issues. Ensure you are registered to vote, your address is current and where your poll is located.

Register online at: https://www.champaigncountyclerk.com/elections/registration. Same-day registration is available at the polls.

Your vote counts and can make a difference. Let your voice be heard. Everyone, exercise your right. Vote on Nov. 6.

Debbra Sweat is a resident of Rantoul.