My first time
I remember waking early to the sounds of chanting. As a college student, I could often hear the sound of ROTC students as they ran drills early in the morning. But, these sounds were different.
As the voices got louder, it was obvious that the crowd was much larger than the about 40 students I would normally hear.
The songs, the chants, the yelling of spirituals filled the university housing as a crowd of more than 2,000 students marched to the polls on that day in 2012. While I did not join the group as they made their way off campus to the community center that sat just off of University Drive in Prairie View, these are the first memories I have of my first experience voting in a presidential election. (I voted after class later in the day with a group of friends.)
Yes, I attended Prairie View A&M University for undergrad. I worked at The Panther, the campus newspaper, which was housed in the space right next to the Office of Student Engagement where I would often see Sandra Bland with a group of friends hanging out near PALs and student government offices.
Prairie View is well known for being one of the sites where students have lent their voices to conversations regarding voter suppression and the presence of racism in Texas. Those conversations have led to legislative changes surrounding events related to access to polling locations for students. My campus has also spoken out against crime and discrimination.
Knowing the history that surrounded my school and the work put in by other students to make sure I had the opportunity to cast a vote in the place were I spent most of my time, for me voting was important. During those times, it was simply important for me to vote just because I knew of the stress and hardships students at my university went through.
And years later, it still is important.
I am not the person that takes a picture with my "I voted" sticker. I am not the person that generally tells the day I voted or even draws a lot of attention to the fact that I do vote.
To me, the action should be as routine as brushing my teeth or tying my shoes. It is my right, and I cannot take it for granted.
Happy birthday to John Hughes of Plano.