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April 15, 2021

Leonard Pitts: ‘A change gon’ come’

Dear Republicans:

Let’s just say this plainly. You are a people lacking integrity and honor. And you have not a thimbleful of respect for one of this nation’s most sacred principles:

Meaning equality under the law. One person, one vote.

That harsh appraisal is necessitated by your response to losing the 2020 election. First, you pretended you didn’t, embracing the anti-fact hogwash your craven leader spewed like a broken sewer pipe. Then a mob of your voters breached the U.S. Capitol, killing a police officer, and many of you made excuses for it. Finally, you introduced 253 voter-suppression bills in statehouses across the country, including one signed last week by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.

It restricts the use of drop boxes, cuts back on early voting and allows the state to take over municipal elections — i.e. for Republicans to decide which ballots from Democratic counties should be counted. You even had the testicular effrontery to make it a crime to hand out or accept snacks or drinks in the long lines snaking out of polling places, lines that are only long in the first place because you made an ordeal out of a civic duty.

Please don’t bother claiming this is about election fraud. It’s an open secret that that’s a lie, that election fraud is virtually non-existent and certainly had no impact on the 2020 outcome. We know this because we’ve seen the studies. We know it because Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger reluctantly admitted it. And we know it because lawyer Sidney Powell, who claimed voting machines were rigged until the manufacturer sued her for $1.3 billion, now says she was just funnin’ and no “reasonable” person would have believed her.

No, your problem isn’t that the electoral system didn’t work, but that it did. Because when it does, when everybody gets to vote, your politics of white resentment are apt to lose. That’s why you’ve embraced Jim Crow 2.0: to stop African Americans — other Democratic constituencies, too, but African Americans most of all — from voting.

Well, this note is to put you on notice. We see you. And, while your policies may well break this fragile country, they will not break us.

We are the heirs of men and women who walked across a bridge into the jaws of brutality, who faced clubs and cattle prods, dogs and high-pressure hoses, pine-tar torches and dynamite, fighting to vindicate our very humanity against people like you. We are the sons and daughters of determination and resilience, of a courage you cannot fathom and a faith you’ll never understand.

And you think we’re shook by Brian Kemp? You must not know ’bout we.

You must have missed it when Sam said, “A change gon’ come.”

You must not have been listening when Maya said, “And still I rise.”

You must have been out of the room when Martin said, “Right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.”

Be ye assured, then, that this will not stand. Either the Democrats will get themselves together and pass comprehensive election reform, or the courts will slap you down, or we’ll just end up doing what we’ve had to do so often over 402 years: outflank, out fight and outlast.

Either way, history will know you as it does so many of your ideological forebears: as cowards, liars and fools who thought they could keep change at bay. But Sam was right: change gon’ come, regardless. You fear that truth, but it gives us hope, it makes us strong. So yeah, congratulations on your Jim Crow 2.0.

Enjoy it while you can.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Miami, Fla., 33172. Readers may contact him via e-mail at lpitts@miamiherald.com.

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