The New Old South of Jim Crow

On March 25 at the Georgia State Capitol, I witnessed something America has become infamous for: racial inequality. As I squeezed my TV remote until the white of my fingers appeared, I remembered the anger and disdain that I have felt most of my adult life.

Imagine two beefy men dragging a petite black woman back by her armpits while the handcuffs are handcuffed. She is not alone; this is the reality of many others who have suffered the same outrage in the name of oppression. I sat watching the arrest of an elected state lawmaker, Rep. Park Cannon.

Representative Cannon was at the Georgia State Capitol all day waiting for a “meeting” held behind closed doors in Governor Brian Kemp’s office. A single blow was given by Representative Cannon before his quick arrest by law enforcement. It is really deplorable!

The treatment of people of color in Georgia in relation to the way whites are treated can no longer be denied; it is now crystal clear.

In a 13-page incident report, one of the officers who made the arrest noted that “January 6 was on his mind.” I bet it was. Cannon has been charged with obstructing law enforcement and preventing or disrupting a general meeting, although a closed meeting would not normally be considered a “general meeting.”

A knock on a door has been compared to the all-out insurgency on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, which resulted in deaths and over 200 arrests! This unique event, while minor compared to the aforementioned insurgency, is a palpable indication that Jim Crow is far from dead.

All elected officials are entitled to the same protection, regardless of their race.

We have walked for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others; the same fervor and outrage should apply when a black woman is dragged out of the Capitol by the police. This and many other events are a constant reminder that while my ancestors were brought to this country, the country never welcomed them.

The governor’s attempt to lock down and lock down Georgian voters with secrecy and intimidation of this magnitude should be considered unconstitutional, but it is not! By targeting specific Georgian voters with fewer drop boxes, secrecy and intimidation, Georgia has proven to its voters that a change must be made in 2022. Why would a smart person vote back to the tactics of years 50 and 60?

Senator Raphael Warnock put it better: “They are trying to fix something that is not broken. We should make it easier for people to vote, not harder. “

As big Georgian companies choose to speak out loudly for this voter suppression bill, justice must reign in Georgia. Democracy must be granted to all Georgians without restraint. It is an affront to the very heart of what this country is supposed to stand up for, to offer food and water to the voters in line. We have gone too far to allow these small attempts to derail our efforts to keep the peace.

With the governor’s optics so disturbing, six white men and the governor posed in front of a portrait of the famous Callaway plantation. The plantation owned more than 100 slaves who tended 56 acres in Wilkes County, Georgia. I instantly remembered the stories my stepfather had shared about Jim Crow and Bull Connor. He said in his husky voice, “Keep the body and take the spirit,” explaining how slave master Willie Lynch taught this maxim to other slave owners. It hurt my stomach to hear it a second time.

Governor Kemp called the bill an “electoral reform measure”. He passed a bill that criminalizes serving or offering water to desperate voters in the heat of Georgia. I can see the late Rep. John Lewis swinging in disappointment.

As of December 2020, African Americans made up over 31.3% of Georgia’s population and made up 48% of eligible voters in the state. Not only did Rep. Park Cannon work to get Georgian voters eligible, Stacey Abrams with the Fair Fight campaign broke records by registering voters in the now blue Georgia!

“[Kemp] sets up benefits for himself and for those who look like him and think like him. Georgian voters are not so gullible. They went beyond that, ”said Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC).

There are so many black youth in our community to continue this fight against voter suppression and other issues that concern Georgian voters.

Tobias Jackson-Campbell is a young voter who is gaining ground and potentially running for a future seat. Among his many other accomplishments, Campbell is the 4th Vice Chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party of the African-American Caucus. Many young Georgian lawmakers need to learn to stay engaged and promote the discourse that positive young black voices are just as effective as those who are “in trouble, in good trouble and in necessary trouble”, and that’s what we need to focus!

Representative Cannon and those fighting for our inclusion and equality remind me why we must remain vigilant to keep Georgia “democratically blue”. We have repeatedly witnessed the results of the alternative and we cannot go back.

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