The 91 year-old Civil Rights legend, Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery was the keynote speaker at Clark Atlanta University's 2012 Convocation on Tuesday morning. The Historic Black College that sits in the shadow of downtown Atlanta greeted Dr. Lowery with a thunderous clap as he entered the gym and took his seat on stage.
Dr. Lowery spoke of how and why this election is crucial. He said that there are forces that are trying to take away, "everything we have fought and died for."
The so-called voter suppression laws that are on the books in over 30 states, are intended to "bring us back," he said. Bring us back to the old days when the poor and blacks had less political power. Joseph Lowery was able to give first hand stories of how it was in the 50's and 60's and why the students and Americans can not afford to go back.
Rev. Lowery said he remembered that even after they had won the right to vote, they were still questioned at the polls. In one instance he recalls the poll tax, in another he recalls precincts asking black voters to recite the Preamble to the US Constitution before being allowed to vote. Joseph Lowery said that a number of people and local governments are trying to do the very same thing this year in order to keep many African-Americans and poor citizens from voting in the November election.
As the great Rev. Joseph Lowery scanned the crowd, he told the students to step up, take responsibility, take the reigns of the movement and carry on the ideals and morality that the Civil Rights movement displayed so many years ago. "The battle is in your hands," he said, while pointing out to the stadium filled with students. "The battle is in your hands."
After the speech the "real" groundwork began, and the Atlanta Voters United team hit the campus to begin registering hundreds of Atlanta University Center students from Clark, Morehouse and Spelman.