A friend and I launched into a conversation few days ago about elections and voting. My friends and I have better and more interesting conversations most times, but I brought up the subject because something about the recent Louisiana elections had been gnawing at me. The turnout statewide of only 14 percent of all registered voters was awful. My friend was one of those who didn’t cast a ballot. He said he didn’t vote because he wasn’t feeling it. There was “nothing that turned me on” in the election, he said.

Okay, I get the lack of excitement, but I didn’t get failing to vote. Then I gave him my spiel. I guess you can see where I’m going with this.

This is my standard angry diatribe that I have made before and, dog-gone-it, I will make it again. Note to African-Americans like me: You don’t have that chill moment when you can choose which election you want to participate in.

You should cast a ballot in all, or as many elections as you are physically able, whether it be for a tax, a school board member, a city council member, the library board, whatever. You need to be there.

Yeah, I’m picking on my folks, but, really, all voters ought to be voting. Isn’t that the whole reason for the flag and the armed forces and the patriotism stuff?

The Louisiana Secretary of State office said only 13.8 percent of the registered African-American voters turned out for the recent statewide election. Even though that mirrors the overall statewide numbers, I consider it an abomination.

And, in East Baton Rouge Parish, only 8.5 percent of the African-American registered voters cast ballots, according to state records. Just horrendous.

I remember the death and injury toll that getting the right to vote cost my people. For the young, have you seen photos of black people being lynched, dragged across streets, dogs set upon women and children, just for seeking a basic civil right? What about the intimidation and assassinations of African-American leaders attempting to get their people registered to vote?

You have to know about those four little girls blown apart by a bomb while they were at church. Yeah, while in a house of prayer. This was a message sent by those who did not want African-Americans to have a basic civil right that others got just for being the right age and the right race.

Don’t you think you owe them something?

So now, years after all of that, we feel that we can take it easy? “That was the old days. It’s different now,” the young will say.

As the young folk say now, you better "stay woke.’” There are states like Texas, North Carolina and others that are trying to create laws aimed at making it more difficult for African-Americans and other minorities to vote.

In the last presidential race, African-Americans came out in large numbers, but not in the number comparable to when this country elected the first African-American president. Wow, that was great. But what about in other elections?

Have too many of us entered into the middle class and beyond, feel comfortable and have developed a “Well, I got mine. That that was then” mindset? How horrible. It wasn’t 100 years ago when men, women and children were beaten like animals at the foot of the Edmund Pettice bridge in Selma, Alabama, just for asking to be treated like equal humans.

People who show off photos of themselves at that bridge on social media. Hey, look at me, the photo says. My question is, do you vote? Does what happened there mean anything to you? The answer should not be “Yeah, when it counts.”

For the sake of those who gave all for the right to vote, you should vote in every election you are healthy enough to get to the polling place.

I try to get to the polling place if there is an election for anything. I think I owe it to my grandmother and many of her generation who saw how horrible it was to be denied basic human decency.

To my brothers and sisters, you can’t rest. You can’t take it easy. Vote whenever an election is called. If you want to be recognized as a powerful voting group, one that politicians feel they have to answer to, then you have to be reckoned with in every election.

Note to the excuse makers: Local elections are just as important as the national contests. In many ways, they are more important.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke clearly about this issue so long ago: “Even when the polls are open to all, Negroes have shown themselves too slow to exercise their voting privileges. There must be a concerted effort on the part of Negro leaders to arouse their people from their apathetic indifference ... In the past, apathy was a moral failure. Today, it is a form of moral and political suicide.”

Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at epratt1972@yahoo.com