North Dorchester County: Birthplace of Voter Reform

Trails to Voter Reform from Harriet Tubman to the Historical Freedom Shrine

When President Lyndon Johnson introduced voting rights legislation, he called the events in Selma “a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom.” Equally as significant was the establishment of the Historical Freedom Shrine in North Dorchester County. This 40,000 lb. monument commemorates the passing of legislation ordering statewide voting equity.

A proclamation by the Dorchester County Council will declare Nov. 10, 2015 as “Historical Freedom Day.” This is another opportunity that we can appreciate and celebrate this great historical heritage we have in our county and state. Preparation will be initiated in June 2015 for this planning event.

If there is a mantra that we as citizens should be chanting, it would be “freedom is the right to vote.” Harry S. Truman stated, “A vote is the best way of getting the kind of country and the kind of world you want.” People never realize the value of a personal freedom until they lose it. The lost can resonate from a mindset of apathy that can have devastating consequences presently and in the future when it comes to ones opportunities and quality of life. Emilge Crosby stated, “Today, issues of equity and voting rights are front and center in the lives of young people.” It appears there is a prevailing attitude today of many of the young people to question and challenge the process of voting and justice. Their mantra is — they first have to experience justice in order to respect it.

“The ability to cast a ballot that will be counted is a fundamental freedom that protects the other essential rights that Americans hold dear. The freedom to vote is how Americans, regardless of privilege or economic status, maintain the power to hold their elected representatives accountable for decisions that impact their lives.”  — Liz Kennedy May 17, 2012 Protecting the Freedom to Vote.

When we think about the Harriet Tubman freedom movement and the passing of the Maryland Voter Reform many decades later in 1986, there are some compelling connections worth noting. In short, both of them focus on freedom and two constitutional amendments, they are the freedom to be a citizen and the freedom to vote for your elected officials.

Harriet Tubman felt that achieving freedom and equality for African-Americans was closely linked to woman’s rights. Therefore, Harriet was involved in early histories of civil rights and women’s suffrage movements in the United States. She dedicated her entire life to social reforms directed toward improving the quality of life for African Americans- Paul B. Nelson Graduate Student, Grand Valley State University.

Today, many decades later, we still have to be passionate and active in preserving the right to vote for our generation and future generations. As Harry Truman stated: “A vote is the best way of getting the kind of country and the kind of world you want.” To learn more about the freedom shrine story google Hurlock Freedom Marker.

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