I voted today. No, it was not my first time, but this time was different. I have been voting since 1973 when the law first allowed 18 year olds to be part of this rite of passage. Almost without fail, every four years, every two years, every time there was an election of any sort, I cast a vote, so I was unprepared for the emotional state I found myself in today.

I voted during early voting because I wasn’t taking any chances that something would come up or go down that might cause me to miss my opportunity. I didn’t have a sense of gloom and doom today, but it was an overwhelming feeling I was unprepared for so I’m sharing it because sometimes I think we forget how precious this right is.

I was born in Haywood County, Tennessee, almost 65 years ago and a few days later Rosa Parks’ seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus and other events literally changed the world. In Haywood and neighboring Fayette County in 1955, there were no registered African American voters. By 1960, 860 Negroes or Coloreds—as they were called during that time—had endured their portion of hell to become registered voters. Many of these African Americans had been blackballed, discriminated against, harassed, their families evicted from shared crops, intimidated—all in the name of becoming registered voters.

My great aunt and uncle who raised me shared how they went to the Haywood County Court House day in and day out to register. Some days the registrar would take one or two registrants, telling the others to come back the next day. The polling places and start times changed, officials put up roadblocks and barriers—you name it and it was done–to keep African Americans from voting.

Aunt Emma said sometimes they had red pepper put on them as they waited in the hot sun all day for the chance to register. In 1960, she was 41 and she and her neighbors proudly dressed in their Sunday best to cast their vote for John F. Kennedy. This historic action helped Kennedy, a Democrat, carry Haywood County. Her last act of triumph was to cast a vote for President Barack Obama in 2008. She died a month later, amazed at his election during our lifetime. She was almost 90, I was 53.

I thought about her today and all the brave people I knew who had sacrificed so much so I could write that first sentence. I was proud.  I was humbled. I was inspired, and I was unafraid.  I admit I was a little uncertain because there’s been so much hoopla around the sanctity of the vote and the validity of mail-in ballots, but I boldly showed up and voted. Because I could. Because too many sacrificed too much for me to stay home and fear what tomorrow might bring.

My prayer today as I voted was for fairness, truth, equity, justice, sensitivity, compassion, an end to hostility, fear, supremacy, massacres, prejudice, racism and all her ugly cousins—sexism, ageism, regionalism—all the things that tear us apart and make us hate and hurt. I voted today for love, for brotherhood, and sisterhood, for a tomorrow where we all prosper and live in harmony and peace, where all our generations proudly walk together with heads high, unafraid.

I voted today for a world where each of us works every hour and every day to rebuild hope and make this a better world. I voted today and I thank God for the privilege and opportunity to have done so.

Did you vote today? I am excited to hear about your experiences at #drbondhopson on Twitter and Facebook!

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. Now listen to her new podcast, “Three Stores, Two Cotton Gins, One Remarkable Life: The Journey from There To Here,” and meet her favorite family and friends as they share laughter and heartwarming life lessons. Look for it on this page or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

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