This week marks the end of the NAACP journey for justice from Selma to Washington DC. They finish with a legislative sit-in Tuesday night in DC, followed by rallies on the mall on Wednesday. I caught up with them on a segment through Virginia at the end of a 30 mile hike. There were supposed to be political talks and discussions, but I think everyone just wanted dinner and to get to bed at the local host site, after a long day.
Tomorrow’s day may be more political and intellectual. My interest in the march stems less from a legal point of view, as from a restoration and rights point of view. I care deeply about the restoration of voting rights to those who have been incarcerated. As I stood outside the building, discussing the issue with some in the front, the young Black man argues that, if the formerly incarcerated have exemplary records of rehabilitation, then probably they should be allowed to vote.
No. I argue back. There can be no liberation from oppression without franchise. Even with franchise, one has no guarantee of freedom from oppression. It is not simply the vote that liberates, but without it, one surely has no representative voice in the legislative process to which one is subject to the point of imprisonment. Every individual, criminal or not, deserves the right to a voice in the community that does deprive them of the most basic human dignity when it incarcerates.
A history of intolerance for law or laws should guarantee even more of a right to vote against those laws – expressing a voice of dissent against that which deprived the individual of their liberty, and basic rights.