The struggle for the right of black people in the U.S. to participate in the electoral arena is one that is ongoing.
In the 1960s, all throughout this country, black people were engaged in a fierce movement to gain equal rights under U.S. law, one of the most important rights being the right to vote.
It was a struggle that threatened violence and death on black people, especially those within the deep south, and by the time we had achieved the ability to vote, the U.S. government assassinated our leaders and destroyed our black power movement, leaving us nothing to vote for.
The U.S. government wouldn’t stop there.
Over the decades, the government revealed more tricks up their sleeves that served as black voter suppression—which includes the voting restrictions placed on convicted felons.
Statistically, the majority of people impacted by this setup have been black people.
Not because there is something wrong with black people—like we can’t stop committing “crime”—therefore we are convicted at a higher rate than white people.
It is by design that we are the ones who bear the brunt of this restriction. It manages to keep a sizable amount of our community from being able to exercise political power at the polls, especially black workers who are often rendered voiceless throughout the elections.
Recently, the people of Florida voted in favor of restoring the right to vote for those who have been hit with the ‘felon’ label.
Despite overwhelming support to restore this right, the state government is advancing a bill that would essentially veto that vote.
The bill requires that all the people labeled ex-felons pay back all court fees and fines before they can register.
And who will pay the highest price? The working class black community.
Take a walk through St. Pete’s southside black community.
During my run for office in 2017, almost every door I knocked on and a black man answered, he told me he would support me, but he couldn’t vote.
This is large-scale voter suppression of our community; so despite our battles and the lives we’ve lost in the process to obtain these rights, we have never truly been able to exercise them.
Working class black communities throughout Florida have never been able to use this so-called right to vote based on these limitations that have been imposed on us historically and presently.
In St. Petersburg in particular, this new bill, coupled with the existing Jim Crow anti-black rigged election system that is used for local government elections, will make it so that black people’s vote will never count.
That’s why I’m running for District 7 City Council – to give my community a voice, and to fight for the total restoration of felons’ rights.
I am willing to challenge the state of Florida on this question, should the Florida governor sign this bill into effect.
This is featured on my ten-point platform, as well as the question of the anti-black rigged elections.
My platform says:
“Remove the current impediments by the Florida legislature to the restoration of voting rights for people with felonies as decided by the recent referendum. Florida’s prison system disproportionately imprisons African people at a higher rate than almost any other state in the country. Mass incarceration along with the subsequent denial of voting rights for Florida’s mostly black ex-felon population is designed to suppress the democratic rights of the black community. We oppose all forms of voter suppression of the black community!”
This new bill is a complete violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965!
The “Make the Southside Black Again” electoral campaign to elect myself, Eritha Akilé Cainion, for District 7 City Council, is prepared to fight this new bill.
I represent those in my family who can’t vote because they have been labeled felons. I represent those of my community who want the right to vote for their own interests.
This campaign represents a future for the black community, where we have economic and political power, and we are no longer threatened with the possibility of being gentrified out of existence.
This future can be yours. It must be yours!
Join this campaign that’s fighting for the restoration of felons’ rights and an end to the voter suppression of the black community!
Make the Southside Black Again!
Unity Through Reparations!
Vote Eritha Akilé Cainion for District 7, August 27th.
To support or join this campaign, visit VoteAkile.com.