Mississippi’s November 2011 election was particularly emotional for me. During this election, we faced three choices on the ballot: the infamous definition of a person, a Voter ID requirement and limits to eminent domain.
I began my work that day by voting. I always measure voter turnout (and potential problems) by what’s happening at my own polling place. That went smoothly. Afterward, I spent the remainder of the morning canvassing an underserved community in Northwest Jackson, MS with a White female rabbi, Debra Kassoff. While canvassing these neighborhoods, we saw many things. We witnessed poverty and government neglect, but we also witnessed family and community connectivity. We saw generations of families living under one roof. Grandma, daughter and grandaughter were all going to vote at the first home that we visited.
Nsombi Lambright is the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Mississippi. Under her leadership, the Mississippi ACLU carries out a program of public education, legislative activity, and litigation on voting rights, race and criminal justice, freedom of speech and religion and reproductive rights. Nsombi has over 15 years of experience in the fields of community organizing, fundraising and board development and program management. She is the proud mother of a teenager.
Unfortunately, grandaughter never received her voter registration card although she’d registered multiple times at the WIC office. We talked to many grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, mothers and fathers who assured us that the family had voted against Personhood and Voter ID. We also had the opportunity to speak to young brothers who didn’t understand what the initiatives were about.
Working directly in communities still brings me as much joy today as it did almost 20 years ago when started organizing. It centers me and reminds me what this work is all about. The folks that I work with always remind me of my family and they remind me that even though I have a job that pays me to do this work, I am not disconnected from the communities that we serve. These are my people, whether I run into them at a meeting, a family reunion, church or the grocery store. I am privileged to do this work and will keep fighting!!
Little Sister, I’ll be back to make sure that you get your registration card this time!!!
This blog is one of several personal testimonials written by ACLU staff members to commemorate Black History Month.
Do you know who’s pictured in our Celebrate Black History logo? Top row, from left to right: Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Bottom row, from left to right: Thurgood Marshall, Hiram Rhodes Revels and Sojourner Truth.