The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

July 1, 2013

Henry Morgan, guest columnist: 'History did not end in 1965'

JOPLIN, Mo. — The words that form the title of this column were uttered by Chief Justice John Roberts in defense of his vote to destroy the Voting Rights Act.

He was right — not about his vote, but about history.

It is a rare occurrence these days to see a black man, beaten, castrated, hanged and burned.

Lynchings are not common these days.

Rarely do we see these days mounted cops charging into a mass of protesters, men, women and children, who are trying to gain their Constitutionally-guaranteed right to vote.

Cops siccing police dogs on poor blacks, firemen aiming high-powered hoses at crowds of people, brutally washing their bodies down public streets, cops beating people with billy clubs, and crowds attacking Freedom Riders with baseball bats and axe handles were common sights in 1965.

They are extremely uncommon today.

History did not end in 1965. Justice Roberts is right.

While history did not end in 1965, neither did the attempts to suppress the right of citizens to vote end in 1965 — only the methods.

Instead of lynchings, police dogs, beatings, firehoses and billy clubs, we now have voter ID, limiting or ending early voting, reducing the number of polling places in black communities while increasing those in white communities and ending Sunday voting — the day that many hard-working people have to vote since they can’t get off work on Tuesday.

Instead of literacy tests, we now eliminate postcard registration.

Instead of poll taxes, we charge for photo ID and place the only places where such ID can be obtained at forbiddingly long distances. And instead of conveniently located polling places, we place them at equally forbiddingly long distances, especially for citizens with no automobiles and no public transit facilities.

Yes, Chief Justice Roberts, history did not end in 1965.

But what replaced this more violent era of history?

Do you not read newspapers? Do you not watch TV? Do you not listen to news radio?

Are you totally unaware of the endless attempts to suppress the votes of some of our citizens in many, many states, most of which are covered by the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which is now moot?

Did you not see the endlessly long lines of people, predominately black, waiting hours to vote? Did you not see or hear the story of the 92-year-old black woman who waited in line for seven hours to get her right to vote?

Did you not read the stories of the many elderly people who could not vote because they could not locate a copy of their birth certificates, issued often haphazardly to many black people back before 1965? Have you run across a single case of voter fraud, claimed to be widespread by those who worked to institute oppressive voter identification measures?

Did you encounter a single instance of equally long lines in white communities? Did you wonder why there was such a disparity in ease of access to the polls?

If your answer to all of the above questions is “no,” then it seems presumptuous of you to make a comment on history.

A judgment on history requires a close observation of what is going on around us, an observation that would seem to be absent in your case.

How could any reasonable observer of the 2012 election not see a clear pattern of efforts to suppress the votes of certain members of our society? The irony is that all of these attempts to suppress votes came even while the entirety of the Voting Rights Act was in effect. Assuring a fair vote is going to be much more difficult now that you have destroyed it.

Yes, history did not end in 1965.

Henry “Bud” Morgan is a retired MSSU English professor. He was active in the 1960s in the South in helping blacks register to vote.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Our View.jpg Our View: Pledge must be priority

    Mike Seibert, after being elected Joplin’s mayor on Monday, immediately pledged that the city will be operating with transparency.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your View: Free choice

    Joan Banks’ guest column (Globe, April 13) regarding right-to-work seems to assume that if workers are given the choice of joining a union, they won’t join.

    April 16, 2014

  • Your View: Serious drawbacks

    Joan Banks’ guest column (Globe, April 13) lays out clearly and persuasively the serious drawbacks with so-called right-to-work legislation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Your View: Step aside

    The people of Joplin made it clear they wanted change at City Hall with their decisive votes to replace two council members.

    April 16, 2014

  • Geoff Caldwell, columnist: Government without apology or explanation

    Americans feel closest to their Uncle Sam at this time of year as he extends his hand for his “fair share” to fund his numerous endeavors.

    April 16, 2014

  • Phill Brooks, columnist: Value of outside fiscal experts for government

    Missouri recently lost a man who had been one of the state’s tax leaders of decades past.

    April 15, 2014

  • Our View.jpg Our View: Hate hurts us all

    Investigators say Sunday’s shooting of three people — two at a Jewish community center and another at a retirement complex in Overland Park, Kan. — were hate crimes.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Other Views Other Views: State’s theatrics

    Conservatives in the Kansas Legislature have taken advantage of a serious problem — inequities in public school funding — to attack teachers and create new problems.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joan Banks, guest columnist: Right-to-work isn’t what’s right for Missouri

    Right-to-work legislation is up in the air right now in the Missouri Legislature.  Last week, the bill failed to get enough votes to advance to the Senate, but supporters are working to get those votes and move it forward.

    April 14, 2014

  • Our View: A hand across

    Have you ever needed $20 to help you get by until payday, a ride to work when your car wouldn’t start or someone responsible to watch your children for a few hours?
    Of course you have, and odds are you picked up the phone and there was someone on the other end willing to help.

    April 13, 2014

Local News
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Poll

The Supreme Court may take up a challenge to an Ohio law that bars false statements about political candidates during a campaign. Do you think false accusations made in the heat of an election should be punished as a crime?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Facebook
NDN Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Sports