Wake up everybody no more sleepin' in bed/No more backward thinkin' time for thinkin' ahead
The world has changed so very much/From what it used to be
There is so much hatred war an' poverty/Wake up all the teachers time to teach a new way
Maybe then they'll listen to whatcha have to say/'Cause they're the ones who's coming up and the world is in their hands
When you teach the children teach em the very best you can/The world won't get no better if we just let it be
The world won't get no better we gotta change it yeah, just you and me
For some reason the lyrics to “Wake Up Everybody” by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes danced in my head Tuesday night after I heard that Democrat Doug Jones had defeated Republican Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate seat in Alabama. (Yes, I am that mature to remember that song.)
There was a little nervousness early on when the race was too close to call. I had resigned myself to thinking that Moore would win. Heck, he was an accused pedophile, sexual harasser, twice kicked off the Alabama Supreme Court and he was supported by admitted female-genitalia-groper President Donald Trump, who also accused of sexual misconduct.
And, just the night before, Moore’s wife said, "One of our attorneys is a Jew." With all of that, I was thinking Moore had all of the intangibles needed to storm to victory in Alabama. Roll Moore!
But Jones, propelled by a super-energized African-American voting community, closed the case. I was so excited by Jones’ win and his history (I’ll get to that later) that I went online to look at photographs from the civil rights movement and stopped at one from Bloody Sunday at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.
That photo shows a long line of African-Americans, lead by the civil rights leader John Lewis, now Congressman Lewis. They were stopped at the foot of bridge staring at law enforcement officers waiting for them with clubs, dogs, water hoses, guns and evil. They knew they were going to get the crap beat out of them and maybe even killed.
None of them backed down or turned, shimmied away because of bone spurs or other maladies. In fact, they were spurred on by their resolve to seek what everybody else had — civil rights and the right to vote. Minutes later they marched forward and sure enough they were beaten and dogs were put on them.
I know they would be proud of the power of the black vote in 2017 that sent Jones, especially Jones, into an Alabama Senate seat.
Jones is the very prosecutor that won convictions of two of the men responsible for blowing up the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, resulting in the deaths of four little black girls preparing for Sunday School. Isn’t it ironic that the man Jones beat was accused of fondling and dating underage girls?
What is encouraging about the outcome of the election was that it sparked African-American voters who have heard the echoes of the billy clubs slamming into the skulls of those at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Just maybe their votes could make a difference in a state like Alabama.
Now that leads to something else. The Democratic Party must produce for African-Americans and poor people who were behind Jones’ victory. Jones received at least 95 percent of the black female votes cast.
The African-American vote must be courted and appreciated just like the Republicans seek economically poor whites and the super rich. There must be something tangible in the form of better housing, programs that produce real jobs, improvement to educational opportunities, job training and the development of small business. That’s tangible stuff the Democratic Party stalled on in recent years while taking the black and poor voters for granted.
And, now comes something else. Using one of the new terms, minority voters, especially African-Americans, must be “woke” to the growing effort by the Republican Party to develop voter suppression laws. Texas, North Carolina, Ohio and other states have pushed that agenda in recent years. Most have been killed in federal court. But federal court decisions may change now that you-know-who is placing folks on the federal bench right now.
To the African-American and minority communities: Learn from what just happened in a state in the heart of Dixie. Register to vote, listen and read about candidates and issues. Get out of the house and out of your comfort zone.
Again, about the outcome in Alabama, I quote rapper Ice Cube: “It was a good day.”
Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at firstname.lastname@example.org.