I was in the middle of an ugly crying fit. I mean the big, non-stop tears, barely able to breathe crying. My boyfriend, bless his pea picking little heart, tried to comfort me and said, “it’s ok, it really doesn’t matter.” Poor guy, that phrase broke my stupor and I inhaled enough air to yell “F#$k you.” I’d move to Nashville Tennessee 9 months earlier and forgot to change my voter register. This was a presidential election and it was too late to do absentee voting for North Carolina. Noooooooo!!! This was the first time since I was an eligible voter, I did not vote.
“It really doesn’t matter.” What he failed to grasp in the moment, his words registered more than just, well it’s one vote that won’t change the outcome. He was a white man talking to a black woman who values the ability to vote.1 Who grew up with a civil rights struggle. My mom was a poll worker for our precinct. She took time away form work and her family to work the poll. This was back in the day of hand counting ballots. She’d get home with a mixture of exhaustion and exhilaration of being part of the process. I betrayed the struggle, I let people down. My mom made a difference.
I felt like I was being kidnapped or taken to some secret Greek pledging activity when Bernard Whiting came barreling in yelling,“We have to go, now!” He corralled a group of us newly turned 18 year olds at the University of Tennessee to register to vote. One person, Bernard Whiting, made a difference in getting people registered to vote.
In June, a person I’d had one conversation with about pickle-ball invited me to a zoom call for a mayoral candidate. I was floored at the amazing mayoral candidate, Treva Reid. Since then, a sort of domino effect has occurred and I’m volunteering with the campaign. I cannot thank Amy Lyons enough for that initial introduction. Last week, Amy and I hosted an event for our top pick for Oakland’s next mayor, Treva Reid. One person, Amy Lyons made a difference for me.
The son of our family surgeon and my father’s fraternity brother, Bobby Scott was elected to Virginia house of delegates in 1977 and later was elected as a congressman for Virginia in 1993; the first African- American from Virginia to hold the position since reconstruction. My dad and I would always discuss politics. The Watergate hearings started when he retired and he was engrossed. Coincidently, the January 6th hearings started when I retired and like my dad, for me, this was must see TV. He died on October 17, 1998. That was 24 years ago and one of my clear memories is US Congressman Bobby Scott after the service, giving his condolences to my mother, my brother and I. My dad made a difference. Years after he’s passed, a family friend told me, my dad got a group of my mother’s peers at Hampton University to invest in TIAAF -Cref for retirement and how glad she and the others were they took his guidance.
My dad wanted to pass something on as a legacy. What he passed on was not a physical thing, not an object, but a passion. One person can make a difference with commitment to do the work.
“Sometimes we have to do the work even though we don’t yet see a glimmer on the horizon that it’s actually going to be possible.”Angela Y. Davis
This week, consider, where are you committed to make a difference, to do the work?
1…and yes, I know he did not mean it the way I felt in the moment. That was not his intent, Clearly, I needed to calm down and not behave like a movie character under going demonic possession.