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After a lifetime of political elections, Black people in America are still not free

Yet I am compelled, even in a land where I am still not free, to march with my Black son to the polls to vote.

A young man wearing a T-shirt printed with an American flag in the pan-African colors, votes on Oct. 19 in Santa Monica, California.
AP Photos

On the eve of another U.S. presidential election, I hear Africa calling, whispering sweetly to my Black soul.

I hear her, feel her, softly pleading: “Come home…” And I am intoxicated by the appeal of at last, as a man, finally feeling whole.

It is a strange thing. This calling toward “home” when as an African American, I am already “home” — in this land where my ancestors died, land of the pilgrims’ pride. Land where the blood of Black slaves still cries from unmarked graves for freedom, justice and equality.

Land where if I die here, then my last breath will surely bear the familiar bitter taste of racism American style that has proven inescapable mostly all my life.

Nearly 401 years since arriving as human chattel on these shores — and after a lifetime of political elections — the Negro in America still is not free.

I hear Africa calling me, whispering in the wind with crystal clear clarity.

Calling me still, even as I eagerly prepare to exercise my right as an American to vote in this year’s election with my 18-year-old son, for whom this will be his first partaking of this sacred civic exercise for which some of our forbearers sacrificed their lives.

I am, admittedly, numb to some degree. For the choice in candidates does not excite me. Partisan promises from either side do not delight me. For they have all lied.

They have all, at one point or another, in the history of African Americans, abandoned us. Forgotten us. Hung us out to dry. And each time when political pimping season arrives, they come a calling, to no surprise, speaking promises bathed in pie-in-the-sky lies.

Perhaps I am too blinded by the tears in my eyes.

But this much is clear on the presidential ballot this year: Character, Integrity and Decency vs. Amorality, Incorrigibility and Indecency.

I must choose, then wait and see.

Meanwhile, Africa beckons to me, strangely in diametric juxtaposition to the national swell of American voices that profusely disdain me — and my kind. That desire to turn back the hands of time to make America’s hate great again.

But I hear the spirit angels, calling just as loudly, crying, rising from the shark-laden Middle Passage to tortuous sunbaked Southern plantations. I hear Medgar, Malcolm and Martin.

I hear the screams of Emmett Till. I see his swollen tormented face and his mother’s anguish upon observing America’s racial hatred stamped on her 14-year-old son.

I see the ghosts of those in the Civil Rights era who marched, stood up, sat down or sat in. I see Rosa Parks. I see Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Maria Stewart and Ida B. Wells.

I see tears. Tears over the lingering condition of Black people. Tears for a nation that remains for us unjust and unequal. Tears for Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner. Sandra Bland. Breonna Taylor. Tears for George Floyd…

Tears for Black lives unjustly taken yesterday. Tears for those that will be unjustly taken tomorrow.

Through my tears, I also see the headstones of my great-great-grandparents: Annie Wheat Roy, born in 1863, the year President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation; and Burton Roy, born in 1845, into slavery.

All of this compels me — even in a land where I am still not free — to march with my Black son to the polls to vote. Holding fast to this great American right, privilege and responsibility. To the hope of creating a better brighter America, an America I still love, and where all men someday may feel free.

I hear you calling, Mother Africa. And I’m coming, if only for long enough to soothe my weary soul. Please wait for me.

Email: Author@johnwfountain.com

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