A message from former Congressman Louis Stokes: Protect the Right to Vote

Councilman Madison has signed the petition, please add your name to the list. Former U.S. Congressman and Ohio leader Louis Stokes sent the following email to supporters of Ed FitzGerald:

I was raised in the first housing projects in Cleveland, and went on to serve our country in WWII, and then as the first African American elected to Congress from Ohio. I was afforded those opportunities because my mother had left the south years earlier in search of a better life, and found it as a domestic worker making $8 a day.

We both witnessed the punishing struggle for equal rights, but I’ve lived the political and economic mobility of its success.

Neither would have been possible without Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who I first met in 1965. He was traveling around Cleveland registering voters from the back of a flatbed truck. He’d say that we must vote, because Southern blacks couldn’t. And fresh in our minds was the memory of the three boys killed for registering voters in Mississippi the year before.

So we registered voters, and we voted ourselves – and eventually, America passed the Voting Rights Act. Ever since, Dr. King’s long walk has resulted in expanded access to the ballot box and empowered citizens with a say in their future. That’s how each generation has bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.

Today, Governor Kasich is restricting the vote – and the ability of Ohio’s citizens to make their voices heard. Once again, we need to make our voices heard: Join me and Ed and tell Governor Kasich that the right to vote deserves to be protected, not restricted.

In 2012, 59,000 Ohioans voted during the Golden Week that Governor Kasich is eliminating, and 1.3 million voted absentee. With the swipe of Kasich’s pen, those absentee votes now face an uncertain and unnecessary hurdle.

Ohio’s Republican leaders are unraveling decades of progress expanding the vote. Stand with me – and Ed – and let’s fight to ensure every Ohioan has the right to vote without restriction:

United together,

Louis Stokes

Former United States Congressman
Cleveland, Ohio