The Commercial Appeal (Dec. 10, 2018) — After the Civil War and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, the formerly enslaved people wanted mainly two things: land, and access to the ballot.
Having land and property was obvious, but the idea that they wanted access to the polls, the right to vote, should not surprise us.
What these formerly enslaved people understood was that their rights to own land and property, to be protected on that property, to live as a full citizen and to be part of a democratic system, depending on their ability to participate in the electoral process on all levels.
They understood that elected officials, especially local ones sensitive to their needs, could help facilitate the transition into freedom.
Today, however, and especially in Tennessee, many of us do not see the importance of voting. Nationwide, in 2014, Tennessee ranked 50th in voter participation. In 2016, we did a little better, moving from 50th to 49th.