9to5 held its third annual National Day of Action on August 26, Women’s Equality Day. In Atlanta, chapter volunteer Nicole Corley blogs about her experiences helping register voters at the Five Points MARTA Station.
I knew that when I became involved with 9to5, National Association of Working Women back in 2006 as a student at Georgia State University this was going to be a connection that would last beyond graduation. When I learned they were doing a Voter Registration campaign in honor of their National Day of Action, I knew this was something that I had to be part of. More importantly, it was something I had to do with my son.
I should probably mention he wasn’t nearly as enthused as I was to be there, but that’s OK, he was still engaged. He was my clipboard yielding right hand man, equipped to pass me a pen or registration application whenever I needed it.
He had lots of questions regarding the purpose of this activity and I did my best to answer. The most profound moment came when a gentleman passed us by and said he couldn’t vote. OK, really he yelled, “I ain’t got NO rights!”. As my son cautiously watched, I curiously (and carefully) asked him, “why?” and he bluntly told me, “because I’m a felon.” Not willing to let this gentleman go without being properly educated on his rights (and hot off the press with my new knowledge from 9to5), I told him that if he was no longer on probation and finished paying all his fines, he, in fact, DID have the RIGHT to vote. Immediately his demeanor changed and he proudly filled out the registration. We encountered several of these stories and sadly they all didn’t have the same outcome.
“Ma, what’s a felon and why don’t they have rights?” After breaking it down for him, his simple yet complex response was, “dang.” Please understand, this was no ordinary “dang!” This “dang” was like feeling the earth move below your feet or maybe like getting hit over the head by an alien…it changes you, forever. This, I’m certain, turned on a conscious light bulb that I can only hope will help guide him in his decision making process to avoid anything remotely resembling criminal and to also understand the importance of being civically engaged (two for one deal!). Today he learned how he can make a positive impact with just one pen and (registration) paper at a time. How awesome is that!?!
So there we were and here we are, a couple of engaged amateurs. It’s your turn to make a positive impact… I triple dog dare you!
Read more about Nicole’s work as an “engaged amateur” at her blog, Connect: Change.
Pictured above is Nicole and her son.