I saw a photograph of Hervis Rogers earlier this week on my news feed and when I saw what he had done, I almost shed a tear. He instantly made my list of heroes.
You probably have never heard of him. He is not from around these parts, but Hervis is a full blown symbol of a true American. While not a citizen our state, he is what we want in Louisiana and every other state.
Sadly, though, he is also a symbol of what is happening and will be happening around the country to make it more difficult for some Americans to vote in several so-called red states.
Hervis Rogers was cited as the last person to vote this week in the Texas Democratic primary on Super Tuesday. He voted at Texas Southern University, an historically black university in Houston.
Rogers, who works two jobs, stood in line for over 6 hours to vote. In fact, he voted, according to media accounts, around 1 a.m. on Wednesday. Would you have done that? I hope you would have. By the way, he had been to two other voting sites.
News media streamed to him to ask about his effort.
“It is insane, but it’s worth it,” Rogers said according to media accounts. “I mean, I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t vote. … I voiced my opinion but it don’t feel right if I don’t vote. So, I said ‘I’m going to take a stand and vote. It might make a difference.”
My goodness, can we will build a statue of this guy in every state in the country?
By the way, TSU is partly to blame for the long delays in the lines. Power was out for a few minutes in one batch of voting machines. But Texas is one of the Republican run states that have closed hundreds of polling places, many that serve predominantly black and brown citizens, who, surprise, mostly vote Democratic. In common terms it’s called voter suppression.
It’s the idea that those voters will see the long lines and become frustrated and decide not to vote. Similar actions have been taken in Alabama, North Carolina and Florida.
For Rogers and so many others, succumbing to suppression tactics or a long wait, was not an option.
Now for people in Baton Rouge and around the state. This is a call for all citizens to be vigilant about voting. There are elections coming up in Louisiana, along with the big ticket for president of the United States. You need to be there.
Now, mind you, the election Rogers stood in line for over 6 hours was in a Democratic primary. That was just to signal who he wants to represent his party in the presidential race. Yet, impressively, he and others stuck it out.
“I wanted to get my vote in to voice my opinion,” he said according to media accounts. “I wasn’t going to let anything stop me, so I waited it out.”
Given the long, frustrating lines and the loss of power issue, Rogers said, “It was set up for me to walk away. But I said ‘I’m not going to do that.’”
I wonder how many turned away, got out of line on Tuesday, or would walk away if this kind of suppression and even worse cases arose in the presidential election.
While these types of blatant voter suppression efforts have not cropped up in Louisiana, it is important that everyone is vigilant to monitor anything that smells of such.
Even more importantly, Rogers’ staunch belief that it was important to stand in line for around seven hours is heroic.
Again, find the story of Hervis Rogers and keep it in your pocket. Take it out when you are heading to the polls over the next several months. And, should you run into long lines and become frustrated, please take a minute to read Rogers’ story all over again.
Be sure to read his comment: “If you get out and vote, then you can say, ‘well at least I tried to do my part.'”
Email Edward Pratt a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column at email@example.com.