We must vote because …

We must vote because …

Earl G. Graves, Jr.

The importance of the 2004 presidential election to the security, quality of life, and wealth building potential of African Americans cannot be overestimated. We need a president who can lead with credibility as well as courage, with integrity as well as strength, one who will exhaust all alternatives before sending our young men and women into harm’s way. We must elect a president who will value and protect the lives of those serving in our armed forces in Iraq and around the globe and who will ensure the health and economic security of their families both during and after their honorable service.

We must elect a president committed to the wealth-building aspirations of all Americans, not just the wealthiest among us. We need a president who will not stand for rising poverty rates, stagnant median household incomes, and a black unemployment rate double that of the national population. We must choose a leader who will expand access to African American homeownership. We need a president committed to the inclusion of black-owned enterprises in the business of America–ranging from homeland security to the rebuilding of Iraq–both at home and abroad. We must elect a president who will remove the barriers blocking African American entrepreneurs from lucrative federal contracts, setting the pace for state and local government as well as corporate America. Our ability to accumulate wealth is at risk on Nov. 2.

We need a president committed to a justice system that will protect the interests of the voiceless and disadvantaged, not just of the wealthy and powerful. We must elect a president who will make judicial appointments–starting with the Supreme Court–that will restore our faith in the American legal system as a source of justice and fairness fro African Americans, The next president must appoint an attorney general who understands racism and will fight tooth and nail to cleanse it from the fabric of American life. Our equal protection under the law is at slake on Nov. 2.

We need a president who, in addition to leaving no child behind, will end the abandonment and neglect of the public schools attended by the vast majority of African American children. We need a president who will ensure that our schools can recruit the best and brightest instructors, gain access to updated books and equipment, and educate students in sale, modern facilities. Our hopes for our children hang in the balance on Nov. 2.

We also need a president committed to making college education more affordable, as higher education remains key to expanding the wealth-building potential of African Americans. We must elect a leader who will support existing student loan and grant programs and promote the development of new ones, tailored to the unique requirements of today’s globally competitive workforce. The continued expansion of black professional, corporate, and entrepreneurial achievement is at stake on Nov. 2.

We need a president committed to providing access to affordable health coverage for all Americans. Since 2000, the number of uninsured Americans has risen each year, peaking at 45 million people, or 15.6%, in 2003. The uninsured rate for African Americans is even higher–nearly 20%. That means one out of every five black people literally cannot afford to get sick. The length and quality of our very lives are at risk on Nov. 2.

Not only must we be personally committed to casting our vote on Tuesday, Nov. 2, but we must also make it our business to get everyone we know–especially young people–out to the polls. Doing so will be the difference between the quality of life for African Americans improving or dramatically worsening over the next four years. We must vote. Our future hangs in the balance.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group