Give us the ballot and we will transform the salient misdeeds of blood-thirsty mobs into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens.

Give us the ballot and we will fill our legislative halls with men of god will, and send to the sacred halls of Congress, men who will not sign a Southern manifesto, because of their devotion to the manifesto of justice.

Give us the ballot and we will place judges on the benches of the South who will "do justly and love mercy," and we will place at the head of the southern states governors who have felt not only the tang of the human, but the glow of the divine.

Give us the ballot and we will quietly and nonviolently, without rancor or bitterness, implement the Supreme Court decision of May 17, 1954."18

So, it is clear that Martin Luther King, Jr., who is perceived as a political moderate, likewise sought to acquire the right to vote as a weapon of the achievement of the power with which Blacks could forge their local and national destiny through their own representation and their own participation in the halls of power.

     This objective must be remembered as the central legacy of the Voting Rights Act, and therefore, in giving positive assent to other objectives, one is complicit in forfeiting, not only the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement which was to empower Black people, but the larger goal of enabling them to participate to the maximum extent possible in the determination of their own future.





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November 1999