NewsOne Featured Video

Sometimes, it might seem like the battles for our rights and liberties are some distant memory – even something you’ve only read about in a textbook or seen in a documentary.

SEE ALSO: Michelle Obama Defends Husband, Says Black Women Have Her Hubby’s Back [Exclusive]

The Emancipation Proclamation was signed a century and a half ago. The marches and boycotts and lunch counter sit-ins of the civil rights era are 50 or 60 years behind us.

And today, there are no longer any separate water fountains, no more guards keeping any of our children from the schoolhouse door.  That’s a sign of how far we’ve come – we live in a world with progress that our parents and grandparents would never have even dreamed of.

But that doesn’t mean that our work is finished.

And while today’s challenges may not feel as glaring, they’re every bit as urgent. Do children who go to an understaffed, crumbling school truly have a fair shot at success?  If a family has a son or daughter born with a genetic disease, should they have to fight day and night with insurance companies just to get the insurance coverage they need?  Are our children falling behind because our communities aren’t safe or supportive enough for them to reach their potential?  And how do we preserve our most fundamental right to cast our ballots for our children and grandchildren?

All of those questions have one common answer – and it’s an answer that harkens back to the generations before us. It’s about all of us standing up, getting engaged, and making our voices heard. It’s about getting engaged in our communities. It’s about using the power of our vote to elect leaders who will fight so that those students get the schools they deserve, and those families keep their insurance, and those communities will have voices speaking out on their behalf.

Make no mistake, here in our time, it’s more important than ever that we show up to vote, not just this year, but every year and in every election. Every voice must be heard and every vote must be counted.

Just take a look at the last election. My husband won Florida by about 236,000 votes, Ohio by 262,000 votes, and North Carolina by 14,000 votes. Now that might sound like a lot, but when you spread those votes out across thousands of precincts, in Florida, he won by just 36 votes per precinct.  He won Ohio by just 24 votes per precinct. And he won North Carolina by just five votes per precinct.

States like those could decide the coming election.

Barack has said all along that this election is going to be even closer than the last – and we won’t know which state might be this year’s North Carolina until November 6th.  So we need you to think about all those folks you know who need a little nudge to get to the polls this year – the cousin who’s always too busy, the aunt who’s never voted before, the niece or nephew who just turned 18 and isn’t tuned in yet.

If all those folks don’t show up this fall, the story of the next four years could be entirely different.

Now that so many states have early voting – including Ohio, North Carolina, Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Florida, New Mexico, and Iowa – we can make our voices heard well before Election Day. So, if you live in a state with early voting, pledge to cast your ballot early – and then reach out to everyone you know and make sure they vote by November 6, too.  Anyone can visit, to find out all the information they need to cast their ballots and help shape the direction of our country.

In the end, this isn’t just about who wins, or who loses, or who we vote for. It’s about who we are as a country and whether we’ll speak up for the democracy we want to leave our kids and grandkids. It’s about doing everything we can to carry on the legacy of those who came before us.  And it’s about doing our part, here in our time, to keep our country moving forward.

Sound off!


Tracee Ellis Ross: A Mitt Romney Win ‘Terrifies Me’

EXCLUSIVE: Q&A With Michelle Obama, Part I

EXCLUSIVE: Michelle Obama On Being The Fiercest Working Mom In America, Part II