Martin Luther King III is a member of the board of Why Tuesday? and president and co-founder of the Drum Major Institute.
In 1965, fewer than 2 percent of eligible African Americans living in Selma, Ala., were registered to vote. As we all know, this was the result of laws and policies whose purpose was to keep African Americans out of the voting booth. It took decades of blood, sweat and tears to reverse this deeply embedded discrimination. Having lost my father to that struggle when I was still a small child, I cannot begin to express what it meant to see a black man take the presidential oath of office in 2008.
What a difference eight years makes. While Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, fewer than 80,000 votes divided among Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan made Donald Trump the electoral college winner. In each of these states, Clinton saw a significant decline in minority vote totals of 10 percent or more. And in each of these states — along with swing states North Carolina and Florida — that difference in turnout may be attributed to legislative efforts to make it harder to vote. In fact, a federal appeals court described North Carolina’s lawmakers as targeting minority voters with “almost surgical precision.” (more…)