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First time voter Myshala Bourgeois, left, waits in line to cast her vote at the Domingue Recreation Center on election day Saturday, October 12, 2019 in Lafayette.

Seven years ago, our daughter voted for the first time in a presidential election, and our 90-plus-year-old father would vote for his last time before he would pass away. This situation had a transforming effect on my life. A new voter and a seasoned voter traveled to the polls on that presidential Election Day.

Why should I vote?

First, as a person who grew up in the turbulent 1960s I watched my parents vote and discuss the process around the kitchen table. This was my introduction to the voting process. I know a person who was attacked by dogs as he organized a voting rally in Mississippi. I am a product of these events, and I vote out of legacy and duty.

Secondly, I vote because I want my voice to be heard. I realize the importance of voting. As a father and pastor I know it is important to be a positive role model for a younger generation. I vote, because I know the great sacrifice people have made in the past. I remember the smile my beloved father had when he left the polls for the last time in Florida. The smile said to me, “I let my voice be heard one more time.”

Lastly, I vote because I must speak for a generation yet unborn. I want my legacy to be that I tried to help someone. This was what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in one of his famous sermons. We drink water that we did not create, we enjoy the sunshine that we did not make, we enjoy rights and privileges that we gain from the death, pain and sacrifice of others before us. I vote, because I want to honor the memory of my beloved father, who walked to the polls on his cane and be assisted by his caregiver. I can see his smile now. That is why I vote.

Rev. Herman O. Kelly Jr.

pastor, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Baton Rouge