Every time there's an election, I try to re-watch Iron Jawed Angels, the HBO suffrage movie starring Hillary Swank (love her!). I find it impossible to watch that woman being force fed in prison, not even allowed to hunger strike for suffrage, and not weep.
This past summer I also read Coming of Age in Mississippi, by Anne Moody. I have never, ever read such a stunning memoir that so perfectly and believably captured the thought processes of youth. To read that book is to really enter the space of the deep South during the Civil Rights movement, to be sitting beside Moody at the Woolworth's counter while she and her fellow protestors were beaten for being Black and wanting a hamburger. Moody writes many chapters about the perils of trying to vote as a Black person, of the beatings and imprisonments and murders for exercising legal writes of citizenship. She doesn't mince words and the scenes are graphicly haunting.
I keep these two literary works in mind today as I head to the polls. I wish everyone would. When I hear my students or friends complain about long lines at the polls, suggesting they might not vote because of them, I want to shake them. I mean, my great-grandmother Nana was born and lived a long time while women were not legally allowed to vote. I imagine she came of age for the first election where she could indeed cast a ballot as a full fledged citizen.
For my Nana, for Anne Moody and for Alice Paul, Inez Milholland, and Lucy Burns, I will vote today no matter how long the line is. And when I'm done, I'll feel really good about it.