Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Prairie View A&M Students March for Voting Rights

Hat tip: Roland S. Martin (WVON-AM, 1690)

From The Houston Chronicle:

Thousands march in Prairie View for voting rights
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

PRAIRIE VIEW — More than 1,000 Prairie View A&M students turned out today to march in support of their voting rights.

The marchers said Prairie View student voting rights have been suppressed for decades in Waller County.

The protesters carried "Register to Vote" signs and wore black shirts with the slogan, "It is 2008 and we will vote".

"I was angry after registering to vote in the 2006 election only to be turned away at the voting booth," said sophomore Dee Dee Williams.

The march began at 9 a.m. as the protesters left the campus on the seven-mile journey to the Waller County Courthouse in Hempstead.

Students, local leaders, civil rights activists and elected officials took part in the march. Police estimated the total crowd at about 2,000 people..

"These are wonderful kids. They are making a statement, until they spoke up there was only one early voting place in the entire county. They spoke up but everyone is benefiting from what they are doing,'' said Prairie View Mayor Frank Johnson.

Last week, under pressure from the federal government, Waller County officials added three temporary polling places for early voting, ditching plans to open only one voting site in advance of the March 4 primary.

The Justice Department questioned the county's January decision to cut early-voting sites from a half dozen throughout the county to just one in Hempstead. The county's about-face came on the same day that critics announced a mass march to the polls next week.

Early voting begins today.

Waller County has faced numerous lawsuits involving voting rights in the past 30 years and remains under investigation by the Texas Attorney General's Office based on complaints by local black leaders. Those allegations, concerning the November 2006 general election, related to voting machine failures, inadequate staffing and long delays for voting results.

Good for them. I heard one of the young women organizing this on the radio this morning, and it was obvious that they had been targeted many times, but they were standing up TOGETHER this time as a community.

There's something about that picture that makes me mad and smile at the same time.

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