Who Says Black Voters Won’t Turn Out In November?


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Rumors abound that more Blacks will either vote for Trump in 2024, or refuse to turn out in massive numbers to vote in the November 2024 presidential election.

But historians will tell the real story as they have told for years about 1966 in Selma, Ala.

Blacks in Selma voted for the first time in 1966, defeating Selma Sheriff Jim G. Clark Jr., a strict segregationist who famously wore a “Never” button and frequently used cattle prods and billy clubs to stop Black voting-rights protesters, including civil rights leader C.T. Vivian.

Before Selma’s historic 1966 election was held, about 1 percent of Blacks in Selma were registered to vote. According to rumors, Black voters would not turn out to vote. Turns out, it only took a small percentage of Black voters to stop Clark from serving another term as Selma’s sheriff.

In other words, Selma’s historic 1966 election brings the past and the present sharply into focus.

“You can keep the club in your hand, but you cannot beat down justice,” Vivian told reporters after Clark punched him in the mouth at a February 1965 voting rights protest, which was held on the steps of the Dallas County courthouse.

Clark also blocked Vivian’s path into the building and turned his back. But Vivian said, “You can turn your back on me, but you cannot turn your back upon the idea of justice. We will register to vote, because as citizens of these United States we have the right to do it.”

Vivian, who was arrested multiple times and suffered several brutal beatings at the hands of officers throughout the South, received the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom, before he died at age 93 in 2020.

The slain soldier’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, later told reporters, “President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband.”

Worse, in 2018, Trump referred to Haiti and African nations as “sh-thole countries” during a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators.

One year later, in 2019, Trump said four Congresswomen of color should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Most recently, Trump said at a campaign rally, “The Black people like me for my felony charges.”

Jasmine Harris, director of Black media for Biden-Harris, told the Grio in a February 2024 interview, “Donald Trump has been showing Black Americans his true colors for years: An incompetent, anti-Black tyrant who holds us to such low regard that he publicly dined with white nationalists a week after declaring his 2024 candidacy.”

Right now, the best thing Blacks can do well, is, well, recall how Black voters determined the outcome of Clark’s failed reelection bid for sheriff of Selma in 1966.  Black voters can also recall how they went to the polls and helped Jimmy Carter,  Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden win the presidency.

Black voters, in other words, are a muscular political force and one of the most intensely courted constituencies, due to the fact that this voting bloc continues to leverage election outcomes.

While rumors suggest more Black voters will either vote for Trump or they will not turn out in large numbers in November to vote for Trump or Biden, history will make the final call.