Thomas L. Reynolds, president of the Montclair NAACP, shares his views on the Trayvon Martin case, gun control, voter registration, and voting rights:
Yesterday, the Montclair delegates to the NAACP National Convention stopped by the Seminole County Courthouse, the place where George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Benjamin Martin. Let me preface this with I am mad. And not at the judge or jury, they did as they were required to; they were presented with a case that cast reasonable doubt. I am mad because we have created a society where the murder of Trayvon Martin was possible. We have created a situation where the murder of a 17 year old black boy in a gated community was a possibility. We have created a community where in the same congressional district, a black woman can fire a warning shot and get 20 years in prison, and Zimmerman can walk free.
This trial has proved to us that we have work to do; hard work; difficult work; long work. We have to fight to strike down “Stand Your Ground” legislation. We have to fight to deal with sensible gun control laws. We have to fight to make sure that all our eligible voters are registered, educated and mobilized for our redundant, expensive elections this year. We have to make sure that everybody who believes in the free, equal righto vote is with us on the bus to Washington, DC on August 24th. And we must all be ready for the long fight, because as civil rights advocate Harry T. Moore said “Freedom never descends upon people. It is always bought with a price.”
As far as I’m concerned, 18 months ago, the blood of Trayvon Benjamin Martin paid that price. 50 years ago, the blood of Medgars Evers, was shot in his driveway carrying a box of t-shirts that said “Jim Crow must go,” paid the price. 53 years ago, the blood of Emmitt Till paid that price. How many times must our young black men be profiled for just walking while black?
We are the NAACP. We know that there is work to be done. We know that it will not be easy work, and we must be in it for the long haul. I challenge you all to do these few critical things:
First, Check your membership status. If you are unsure, contact Beverly Bussey (Beverly@MontclairNAACP.org). Are you concerned about your membership expiring every year? Upgrade to a life membership, I upgraded mine to subscribing silver this year.
Next, I challenge you to contact your legislators and let them know you want them to secure a new formula for preclearance for the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court stripped out. I will make available a template letter to all those who want it on our website under “ACTION ALERTS.”
Third, I challenge you to sign up to ride the bus with us to DC on August 24th for the 50th Anniversary March on Washington. I will make sure the bus information is out early, but we need to know how many buses we need as soon as possible.
Finally, I challenge you to register 1 voter. But you cannot just register a voter, you must make sure they know the issues, about who the candidates are and what they stand for. And you must make sure they know about all elections this year, the Special Primary Election on August 13th, the Special Senate Election on WEDNESDAY, October 16th, and the General Election – 20 days later – on November 5th.
To quote former President John F. Kennedy: “Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds; let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth, God’s work must truly be our own.”