To the Editor and Citizens of Indianola/Sunflower County:
First, The Concerned Citizens of Indianola/Sunflower County (CCISC) would like to thank all of the candidates who worked tirelessly during the campaign season, spoke words of hope and encouragement to the community, bought ads in the town’s paper, placed expensive and colorful signs in the city and throughout the county, and walked and drove hundreds of miles to meet the voters. Secondly, we would like to thank the voters who took the time to vote, encouraged others to vote, called potential voters and drove voters to the polls; for all of this we offer an encouraging “thanks.” Yes, thanks for caring enough to want to make a difference in our community.
We could end this letter with words of thanks, however, there are other issues relevant to the Primary Election that must be and should be addressed. The first issue is that of voters’ turnout. Out of 16,426 registered voters in Indianola/Sunflower County, only 5,301 actually voted in the primary election, according to the county wide Final Summary Report.
We recognize that many of our people have given up on the “fairness” of the voting process, but we cannot and will not refuse to exercise our right to vote.
Once we stop caring enough to vote, then it means that the “Fannie Lou Hamers”, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., our parents and grandparents gave their lives in vain. Oh yes, it is disheartening when we see members of the White race and mainly Republican Party, change their party affiliation during the primary to prevent competent and qualified candidates from holding office. Little did we know that a group had been organized to target some of our Black candidates.
Please note that when we offer our candidates to the community, we try to offer our “best”, not for “selfish” reasons, but for the good of our community (reportedly over 70% Black). We see you as you talk about working together, but you continue to play games with people’s lives – hard-working, dedicated and committed individuals’ lives. Yes, we see you as we continue to shop in your stores and other businesses, attend your meetings (those of which you allow us to attend), support you when you come to our neighborhoods to campaign, attend our churches and other functions, though we do not feel welcomed in your churches and in many of your neighborhoods. We see you – and we are taking notes from you, because you have been in this business much longer than we have.
Then for those who say, “Well at least we have a Black person in this position.” Just as you want qualified and competent candidates, so do we want all of our candidates to be the “best.” We would at least like to know our candidates, you can’t choose for us. For those who say we are angry; no, we are not angry, but hurt and disappointed that in 2019, we are still playing games with people’s lives. Most of us continue to believe the words in Romans 12:19 & 21, “for it is written, vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” To our sisters and brothers who have decided that the election process is simply a time to make money by selling your vote, your integrity; we say, “Shame on You.” For as Margaret Walker wrote in “For My People”, We need bread and shoes and milk and land and something – something all our own.” Yes, we need not a dollar for a day but, opportunities that will last a life time.
Finally, we write this letter, because according to one of our members who quoted Dr. King in saying, “Our silence may be our worst enemy.” So it is our belief that we will never win an election or anything else, if we are willing to sell the future of our children for our personal and immediate comfort and safety. “Let our children see the greatness in us, and we hope that the greatness of this period is that we straightened our backs up. And a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent. For in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” M.L. King, Jr.
Barbara McDaniel Suggs, PhD
Concerned Citizens of Indianola/Sunflower County