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July 08, 2024

For the Sake of Soul - Voting

By Frederick Foote

Alright, alright, turn on the light. It's time to get down to business tonight. I'm Night Train, your engineer, and conductor For the Sake of Soul, our online radio transportation to the blues. We have to be bold and let the boilers run hot because the shit has hit the fan. In 43 states, they are rolling back our voting rights. The rabid, racist, Republican rapscallions are justifying their voter persecution with the big lie that there was massive voter fraud in the 2020 election. So, we face a new Klan in the same old Land that wants to take the vote from our hands.

The struggle is not new. We just have to figure out what to do. We can't battle racism with rifles. You can't kill prejudice with bullets. And today is living proof that our laws have not changed some hearts and minds. But, we know enforced laws can change the way folks act.

The 60s civil rights revolution opened the doors for us to public restaurants, hotels, stores and got us the right to vote -- again, remember the 15th Amendment? And we made that revolution a reality with our bodies, minds, and spirit. We lost lives, suffered broken bodies, and busted heads. We did jail time and paid fines and lost jobs and careers, but we prevailed. And look, here we are back in the streets again and on the internet. We are badder and blacker than ever. Get your marching shoes on. Get your picket sign ready. Wear a helmet and have somebody ready to go your bail. We gonna get on the right track, jack, and drive old Dixie down.

We gonna do the old dances, the boycott, the strike, and street demonstrations, and we gonna come up with new steps too. I depend on you like you depend on me. We will be free. Are you with me? Hey, I can't hear you. Are you with me? Alright, alright, I hear voices in Brooklyn and Miami, Frankfort and South Bend. Oh, yeah, ATL is checking in, and LA is loud and clear. I hear you, Oakland. I feel you in Indianapolis. Hot damn! We got a head of steam. I feel the blues budding in my soul.

My Buddy, Buddy Guy, tells it like it is in Damn Right I Got the Blues. Buddy Guy - Damn Right I've Got The Blues - YouTube

Goddamn, it's good to be back and great to be Black in the radio shack. I got Mildred from Fort Worth on line three. Mildred, help us be Black knights and defend our voting rights.

Night Train, thank you for being here and for giving me this precious opportunity. My eight-year-old son asked my husband, me, and his ten-year-old sister why White people hate us so much that they want to take away our right to vote. My husband told him, "When Black people use their voting power effectively, it scares the hell out of some White people. And it's not just voting that scares them. When the number of Black kids increases in your school, White people will outlaw how you dress, ban your hairstyles, and call you a gang when three or more of you get together.

And when the number of Blacks in your school gets big enough to stop all that mess, Whites will run to a Whiter school.

White people are scared of each other but even more frightened of us. That's why they have so many guns.

We have to understand how dangerous scared people are and learn how to stand up to them and fight for our rights like our parents and grandparents did since the first Africans came to this country.

In everything you do -- in school, at play, in church -- your job is to find new and better ways to fight back. And your mother and I are going to be doing the same thing."

Night Train, I just wanted to pass that on. I hope it is helpful.

Mildred, you are our sunshine on a cloudy day. Your husband is the man. He's right. We got to put our minds, bodies, and spirits to the test and protest and overcome. Fighting back is our 24/7 j-o-b. Yes indeed, you gave us what we need. Now on line three from Chicago, we have Hal. What you got for us, Hal?

Sister Mildred is right on. All power to you and your family. Brothers and sisters, if you are in one of those 43 anti-Black states, you need to visit your capitol in numbers. You don't need a permit to go sit in the gallery. You don't need permission to visit the office of your representative to express your displeasure. Your physical presence will have an influence. I guarantee it. You might want to pick a day like Monday and make it Black Visit your Capitol Day. But anytime you drop in to voice your objections will be fine. Nothing is as serious as seeing Black faces in racist White places.

Thanks, Night Train. Stay safe, man.

Well, well, we on a roll, movin', and grooving.' You got it right, brother Hal. If you can't visit, you should write and call your local elected Klansman today and every day. I suspect some of these roll-backers are timid to the bone. We just need to drive the message home.

I want to hear more. Sister Doris from Waterbury, Massachusetts, is on line one. What's up, Sister Doris?

Shame! Shame! Shame! On all of you for misrepresenting what is happening and for slandering Republicans. We are not taking away anyone's right to vote. We are making the voting system safer to protect us from the massive voter fraud that corrupted the 2020 election. You are broadcasting fake news. We Republicans, Black and White, are the heroes, not the villains.

Sister Doris, what proof can you show us of massive voter fraud? The courts and the experts could not find any gigantic fraud. So, let me be the first media outlet to present your definitive proof. Show us, sister Doris.

Newsmax! Breitbart! Infowars! The proof is there for anyone to see. You are blind and stupid! You have been consuming the liberal Democratic Kool-Aid.

I got you. You don't have proof of any colossal voting fraud. Sister, you are just recirculating rumors and conspiracy theories. We all understand that. However, I don't know why you would want to reduce Black voting because that is precisely what these laws are designed to do. Enlighten us.

Unfortunately, these laws do not go far enough. We need a literacy test for voters. We need an intelligence test for voters. We have too many duped Black people voting for the wrong party. Everybody shouldn't have the right to vote. And in this era of voting manipulation, these new restrictions aren't nearly enough to prevent Democratic voter fraud.

Alright, I'm going to let you get back to Breitbart, Infowars, and your world of misinformation and conspiracy theories. We need to understand that the supporters of voter suppression are not all White. And every time we take a step forward, the racists, Black and white, are going to try to pull us back to the bad old days. Our fight is never over, and victory is sometimes a mirage. Hey, I need a break. Me and Albert King both Born Under a Bad Sign. I'll be right, Black. Albert King - Born Under A Bad Sign - YouTube

Time to change our luck. We have Clay from Pullman, Washington. Turn our luck around, brother Clay.

Night Train, I'm glad you're keeping us on track. You are dead-on; the fight is forever. White officials and politicians have reacted to the 1964 Voting Rights Act by steadily chipping away Black voter participation. Why do Blacks in cities wait hours in line to vote, while whites in those same cities only wait ten to thirty minutes? That's a form of voter suppression. The ID laws are another attempt to make it more difficult for Blacks and the poor to vote. Illegal voter registration purges are Standard Operating Procedures throughout the nation. The courts have not been our friends in gaining and keeping our right to vote. We need to be more vigilant and aggressive.

Amen. Thank you, brother Clay. I have sister, Edna Ward of Knoxville, Tennessee, on line three. What's up, sister?

Look, I ain't no expert on voting. I vote, maybe, once every ten years. I voted for Obama the first time, but he wasn't about nothing. He sure didn't fight for change for Black folks.

I ain't got much faith in voting, to tell you the truth.

Republicans don't want to grant us the vote, and the Democrats take our votes for granted. And the whole House/Senate scam is just a goddamn trick on voters. The game is rigged, man. The corporations run the puppet show, and we are all blowing in the wind of their hot air. We need a fucking system that works for the people. If we don't get that, we'll elect a new "Trump" every other election. Night Train, I would fight to the death for a system that gave us a fair chance at a fair deal, but this voting bullshit, ain't it.

Edna, I feel you, sister. But look at what we did in Georgia with Ossoff and Warnock. That is progress you can't argue with. You got to be up for that."

And that's why we got new bullshit Jim Crow laws to make sure that never happens again. When I see the feds working on reparations and social justice for all, I'll be all in. Until then, I got better things to do with my limited supply of days. Peace out, brother.

Thank you, sister Edna. There is more than one way to skin a cat or catch a rat. We got Ray Ray from Kansas City, Kansas, on line two. What's the 411, Ray Ray?

You got it, man. I'm just trying to get mine. I thought that our churches, of all denominations and colors, could hold outdoor services at the state capitols until these laws are replaced with ones that make it easier to register and vote. I mean, if they were there every Sunday, it would keep attention on the racist rollback.

Damn, Ray Ray, you cookin' with gas now. That is a dope idea, as my kids would say. Thanks, brother.

Thanks, Train. Hey, could you play some old down-home Freddie King tonight?

Ray Ray, Have You Ever Loved a Woman? Freddie King - Have You Ever Loved A Woman - YouTube

Oh, that hurts so good,. Freddie King. Laura-May is on line three. Take these blues away from me, sister.

Negroes, African Americans, Niggers, people of color, Black folks, whatever your title of choice, you need to wake the fuck up. You're wasting your time and energy and your lives trying to become part of a country that has consistently told you for over 400 years they don't want you here. How dense are you that you don't get that message? You are playing by their rules, and they change the rules every time you get a step ahead. If you play by the rules created for a white country by white people you are going to lose every damn time.

White America will never let you even get close to equality in this country. Some people accept this racist reality. They have packed their bags and departed the Land of lynching.

I'm not leaving. I'm not integrating. I'm not looking to create a separate Black state in America or anyplace else. I have paid my dues, as have my ancestors and yours too.

I'm going to take this motherfucker over. We can do this if we start thinking about revolution and forget about integration. Put away your integration playbook and put on your revolutionary glasses, and see the world for what it can be. I'm not talking about a stupid shootout at the okay Corral kind of revolution. I'm talking about a thoughtful revolution that changes the way power is distributed in this country. The possibilities of us having a successful revolution are far greater than the probability of successful integration. Think about it.

I'm a mother. I have three children and two grandchildren. I have tried with all my might to educate them on the possibility of changes beyond those they could accomplish in electoral politics.

I challenge you to take ten minutes to think from a revolutionary perspective about how you could and would create a place where there is greater equity, liberty, and opportunity for all. Don't be an integrationist or a separatist. Be revolutionary! Think revolution! Act revolutionary! And we will own this motherfucker.

I'm out.

What the fuck, Laura-May? Goddam! Wow! We got a preacher and a teacher here. Sister could be right. Maybe we spend too much time thinking about the possible instead of creating the impossible. Let us cognate on that and listen to Bettye Lavette, and think about revolution.

Bettye LaVette - Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood - YouTube

Revolution is on my mind. I mean, if we don't even think of revolution, we may cheat ourselves out of a smarter, better way to overcome. I'm just trying to do good. But I'm always misunderstood, even in the hood. Derek in Lubbock, Texas, has something to say. Take it away, man.

First thing I have to say is, I'm with Laura-May all the way every day.

I'm Derek, and I have been in law enforcement for over 30 years at the federal, state, and local levels. I have been in the Civil Rights Movement since I was 12. I'm going to save you a ton of grief and give you the Gospel of Derek. The Gospel of Derek can help you survive in America in or out of the Movement, but especially in the revolution.

Verse 1. Don't talk to the cops. Statements made to the cops can be used against you. If the cops knock on your door and ask you if you know your next-door neighbor and you say, "No," you have given them the basis for charging you with lying to law enforcement. It doesn't matter if you are telling the truth or not. They now have leverage on you. They can charge you with a crime, and you have to defend yourself. That defense cost time and money. Defending yourself will wear you down and eventually wear you out.

Don't talk to cops! Don't do it! Especially if you are innocent and have nothing to hide. If you don't believe me look at the Central Park Five. They were the Central Park Six. But one boy refused to talk to the cops, and he was never charged and never did time. Check it out.

If a cop tries to talk to you, tell them, "I will only talk to you in the presence of my lawyer." That's it. That's all you ever want to say.

I hear you, Derek. But what about when cops are just being friendly and just want to chat? You know, pass the time of day?

That's when they are most dangerous. Your guard is down, and you will slip up. Cops count on that. Remember, anything you say to them can be used against you. Your response is always, "I will only talk to you in the presence of my lawyer." You need to teach this phrase to your kids and every member of your family.

I got one other gospel for you.

Verse 2.

You need to act like every word you say is being recorded by the government. The government will spy on you, infiltrate your organizations, provoke you to break the law, and spread false information about you to discredit you and your Movement activities.

Think before you talk. Remember, big brother is listening, watching, and recording.

It doesn't matter how obscure your efforts or organization, the government will spy on you.

If you don't believe me, check out, COINTELPRO. That will make a believer out of you.

That's it, Night Train. I'll see you on the protest line.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Derek and I go way back. You need to heed his advice and avoid untold strife. His words can save a life. For real.

On line three, we got Aaliyah from Waterloo, Iowa.

You don't remember me, at least by this name. I was with you and Derek at the 1963 March on Washington. I was Desiree back in the day. I love what you are doing here. I was going to talk about strategy for dealing with the new Jim Crow election laws, but Laura-May blew me away. I'm old and gray, but I'm going to take more than ten minutes, put on my revolutionary glasses, and update my perspective. I'm not going to stop fighting for our right to vote, but I'm going to look for ways to make revolutionary changes.

Oh, my God. You, Derek, and I fought the good fight, and we are still ticking. That's a lesson for all you youngsters out there. Any last words, Aaliyah?

I need you and Derek to keep on keeping on. I need everyone to think about what Laura-May said. And would you play No Mercy in this Land, by Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite?

One last thing, brother, I feel something coming our way that will make us forget all about this voting tempest in a teapot and will make the pandemic look like a picnic. Night Train, we need this voting rights fight and a revolutionary viewpoint to get us ready for what's coming. I don't know any more than that. I love you all.

Man, that is a bad-ass exit. Shit! Now I'm more worried. The hands on the clock are pushing us out of here. All I can say is sister Aaliyah has been dead-on in the past with her predictions. I can't say no more than that. Okay, I can say mutual struggle builds bonds, develops skills, sharpens awareness, and creates trust, and those are survival skills, as is revolutionary thinking.

Stay active, so one day we stay safe. Pray like hell that there is some mercy in this Land.

No Mercy In This Land | Ben Harper

Article © Frederick Foote. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-04-19
Image(s) are public domain.
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