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People sign in to vote and then wait to cast their ballot during early voting at the Juban Crossing polling station in Denham Springs Tuesday Nov. 1, 2016. The line was moving with the wait around 40-minutes.

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG

I was standing in a long, snaking line on Monday morning preparing to “early vote” at the Secretary of State’s office. There is little doubt that the candidates for president — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump —were driving the rapidly growing line.

Clinton and Trump are two of the worst presidential candidates ever, but they are the two main candidates that we have. They are the only two who can win.

I’ll put it this way. I believe the male candidate is absolutely clueless about the international affairs and knows very little about domestic issues other than to say he will change everything. What a policy statement.

And, once the male candidate and former star of a reality show announced in public that he knew more than our U.S. generals — lifelong military people — do in the fight against a terrorist organization, I knew I had to look somewhere else.

I do digress.

The two women standing behind me in line went on forever about how their children’s expensive private school had made do since the August flood. Another couple ahead of me was searching websites on their phones for organizations to get recommendations about amendments.

At no time did I hear anyone discussing choices for president. I think everyone knows that passion is so great in that race that even the hint of a debate could result in some uncomfortable confrontations.

The best thing, though, about the line I was in, was that it was a mosaic of Louisiana Rouge and our country. There were people of all races, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds standing, talking and determined to do their citizen thing instead of being stuck in a longer line on Nov. 8.

As I edged closer to the room where I would vote, I started to see a group of very senior African-American voters trickling into the building. They were moving slowly but purposefully.

As is my habit, I studied their faces. Many seemed to be in their 70s and 80s. Some walked assisted by canes and walkers. Some had that stooped gait that may have been reflective of back pain. Others had that slow, gingerly pace that appears to be caused by knee and joint pain caused by that bad guy, “Author Ritis.”

To be honest, my assumptions were based on listening to them. I could hear folks talk about their aches and pains as they sat, waiting to be guided into a room set aside for people with disabilities to vote.

As their numbers grew, I thought about some of the conversations I had with and have been listening to from millennials, especially African-American millennials.

Some have said they don’t like either candidate so they may not vote. I received a comment on my Facebook page from a young man asking how much damage can one candidate do in four years? As shocked as I was about that question, I was sickened by the lack of interest in voting being expressed by African-American millennials.

I wished some of my millennials could have seen these seniors struggling up steps and needing assistance to get out of seats to go vote. I wish those blasé African-American youngsters could witness and understand what these seniors, and especially their parents, had to go through for the mere chance to vote.

Have we as African-Americans gotten to the point where the intimidation, beatings, killings that my parents' and grandparents' generations endured means young folk can now take a walk on Election Day?

It is disheartening, but that’s the world we live in. What has happened to us?

I wish my millennial friends could have sat next to some of the old people I saw. I wish they could have seen the determination in the faces of these men and women to express their citizenship.

Please, my African American millennials, if for nothing else, Google what happened in the 1950s and early 1960s to those who tried to organize black voters or even attempted to register to vote.

I bet those old people I saw last week don’t need Google. Many of them can give you firsthand accounts.


Email Edward Pratt, a south Louisiana freelance writer, at