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April 2012, Week 1

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Mon, 2 Apr 2012 21:51:58 -0400
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The Ballot or the Bullet - Repeal the Hate, Repeal the
Fear

by Bertha Lewis
Black Star News April 2, 2012

http://blackstarnews.com/news/135/ARTICLE/8080/2012-04-02.html

Suppose George Zimmerman were arrested, tried and
convicted of the murder of Trayvon Martin tomorrow,
what would the legacy of Trayvon Martin be on the
following day?  Would we all put away our hoodies and
stop marching, or would we take up a National Repeal
Movement?

The Right Wing has a national movement to repeal
Obamacare, thereby suppressing access to affordable
healthcare for millions, especially poor people and
people of color. Trayvon Martin will not have to worry
about the repeal of Obamacare or about staying on his
parent's healthcare plan until he is twenty six. He
will never be twenty six. Trayvon Martin stood his
ground, faced hate and faced fear. He could not repeal
the bullet that took his life.  We can make sure that
his death stands for something bigger than just putting
one man on trial.  We can make sure that we repeal the
hate that has spread across this country from one state
house to the next with laws that prevent access to the
Ballot.  We can make sure that we repeal the fear that
allows an unarmed teenager to be shot dead by a fearful
man with a Bullet. It was Malcolm X that coined the
phrase "The Ballot or the Bullet" in 1964.  He was
expressing the anger the Black community was feeling
back then, and what actions could be taken.  It was a
warning and a prediction. We are at a similar juncture
in the struggle once again in 2012.  That is why we
need to channel the energy and the anger over the
murder of Trayvon Martin into action that has a lasting
effect and recognize the opportunity this moment
presents us.  We need to repeal two of the most heinous
types of laws that have infected our political
discourse in the name of Trayvon Martin's life and
death.

We need to repeal every single voter suppression ID law
in all 30 states that have them on their books.  We
need to Repeal every Stand Your Ground law in all 20 
states that have them on their books.  State by state
and city by city we have to pay tribute to Trayvon
Martin by making his life and death mean something.

Trayvon Martin will never get to vote.  Even if he were
alive, when he would have turned 18, especially in the
state of Florida, it would have been difficult for him
to even register to vote.  And in many states across
this country he would not have been able to vote at all
because of the draconian voter suppression ID laws
which target minorities, young and first time voters as
well as the elderly.  We must repeal these laws and
mobilize the same people that are coming out to rallies
and marches to demand that those laws be struck down by
state legislatures.

The Stand Your Ground law in Florida, which may or may
not be used as a defense in the Trayvon Martin case
should be immediately repealed and every other law that
is in place modeled on the Stand Your Ground law should
be repealed. The two Repeal efforts go hand in hand. 
More of these pro gun laws will proliferate in more
states if the NRA (National Rifle Association) has its
way.  And the NRA will have its way with the help of
groups like ALEC ( American Legislative Exchange
Council) if millions of American citizens are prevented
from voting in local and national elections.
Presidential elections are fine but everyone is focused
on what will happen in November that they forget about
their local politics.  It is in local elections that
the rubber hits the road and where the bullet hits its
mark.

We have to follow through with meaningful actions that
will not only see to it that Trayvon Martin has a
lasting legacy, but also saves other young lives that
could be in the crosshairs of another George Zimmerman.
 Emmett Till's death as a young man compelled the
nation to pass Civil Rights legislation that included
the Voting Rights Act. Let us ensure that Trayvon
Martin did not die in vain.  Repeal all voter
suppression laws and all Stand Your Ground laws, NOW!!

[Bertha M. Lewis is the President and Founder of The
Black Institute. She is  a life-long community activist
and organizer. For almost 20 years Bertha was an ACORN
organizer, a tenure that culminated in October 2008
with her appointment as the CEO and Chief Organizer.
During that tenure, Bertha led a complete top-to-bottom
restructuring, and helped guide the organization
through a rain of unrelenting right-wing attacks
seeking to undermine its mission to empower low- and
moderate-income families. As a lifelong community
activist and organizer, Bertha has accumulated
invaluable knowledge of the struggles, concerns and
hopes of our country's minority population.]

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