Honoring Black History Month 2024: A Reflection on the Vote
As Oregon and the nation commemorate Black History Month 2024, and as we face what may be one of the most transformative elections in our lifetime, I am reminded of the words of the beloved Congressman John Lewis:
“The vote is sacred…The vote is precious. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society and we must use it.”
The history of Black Americans is deeply embedded in the fight for full access to the ballot box. From the turn of the twentieth century to present day, Black Americans have been on the frontlines of challenging discriminatory laws, defending voting rights, and fighting for social and racial justice.
In 2024, as we celebrate Black History Month, I am thinking about what the Black vote meant on a day like January 20, 2009 when millions in Washington, DC and throughout the world witnessed the inauguration of Barack Obama, America’s first Black president, and what that same vote could mean for Inauguration Day on January 20, 2025. Indeed, I reflect on that moment in 2009 when hope and change, and a belief in the promise of equality and dignity for all, were in the air.
In a message from Democratic National Committee (DNC) Black Caucus Chair, Ms. Virgie M. Rollins, she said these words: “The Black Vote Continues to Make Democratic Black History.” She went on to say that America should never take the Black vote for granted, but should continue to celebrate our values, voices and votes as we continue to win elections, to deliver the winning margin in state legislatures, to shut down pundits by helping take control of the U.S. Senate and by organizing to save the presidency for America.
For me, the essence of celebrating Black History Month is not only a way to recognize the resilience, achievements and contributions of Black Americans to all aspects of American life, but it is an important way to show respect for the continual fight by many Black Americans, in states across the nation, to protect the precious right to vote. May we all remember that it is a right that can never be taken for granted.
Happy Black History Month 2024!
Rosa Colquitt, PhD State Party Chair Democratic Party of Oregon