Detroiters deserve the right to vote
By D. Etta Wilcoxon
Arguably one of America’s darkest secrets is the fact that all African Americans were denied the American right to vote until the conviction, fortitude and desire to be on the “right side of history,” compelled Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and then President Lyndon Banes Johnson to fight for and to realize the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
That was then and this is now. In 2009, our current city clerk, Janice Winfrey, denied over 60,000 voters in the City of Detroit of their right to vote.
The residents of the City of Detroit are up in arms over the fact that the State of Michigan has imposed an emergency manager on them and consequently, robbed them of their right to vote.
Detroiters have marched to the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center; they have marched inside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center; they have marched a federal lawsuit to the Federal Court House; they have staged Slow Downs in Motown, disrupting rush-hour traffic.
This was all to make the simple point: “We are Americans, and by our birth, we are entitled to and demand the full rights of citizenship that accompanies being an American. Democracy must work for us in the same manner that it works for every other free American. We expect nothing less.”
This same vigor has not been displayed over Winfrey’s disenfranchisement of 60,000 Detroit voters. Winfrey possessed an inability to validate over 50,000 absentee ballots, and she sat quietly as another 10,000 ballots could not be verified at local precincts.
In the case of the emergency manager’s appointment, local media flooded the city with news of the emergency manager takeover of the City of Detroit.
When Winfrey took the right to vote from 60,000 Detroiters, most of whom had only had that right for 48 short years, reasonable people would have thought that it would have played over and over again, had the collective media done its job of “reporting,” but it sat virtually silent as it assumed the role of silent complicity.
Sadly, if history will accurately reflect the pain that America’s republic form of government witnessed as it misapplied its tenets to the African American City of Detroit, it will hold Janice Winfrey a co-conspirator of the media and the State of Michigan in 2013 and as engaged in the vile disenfranchisement of Detroiters in 2009.
The disenfranchisement of the vote is personal to me. My parents were a young African American couple raising a family in the rural poor South when they made a conscious decision that allowed my mother to pay a poll tax and to take a literacy test in order to vote before the 1965 Voting Rights Act was passed.
My father, on the other hand, given their poor economic condition, sacrificed his right to vote so that he could put food on the table for his young children and, therefore, voted only after the 1965 legislation had passed.
My goal is to ensure that every vote, at every stage of the voting process, whether it is when a vote is initially cast or when a candidate legally requests a recount, is in point of fact able to be counted.
Detroit has a chance to declare “never again” as we approach a fresh election cycle in 2013.
The Wilcoxon for City Clerk Team will request that the U.S. Justice Department, the FBI and former President Jimmy Carter come to Detroit, not to take over Winfrey’s duties but rather to ensure her duties are carried out with the integrity that the sanctity of the vote demands.
Our team has requested and received the full backing of mayoral candidates Tom Barrow and Krystal Crittendon. Both candidates have accepted the challenge of standing on the side of right in demanding this oversight.
D. Etta Wilcoxon is a candidate for Detroit City Clerk. Team Wilcoxon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 313.633.4139.