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Thousands of Prairie View Students March 7.3 Miles to Vote

by: sonia

Tue Feb 19, 2008 at 01:28 PM CST

(There are few times when political stories touch the soul. But I have read this post, and all the links therein, a couple times now, and I have an emotional upwelling that is indescribable. My hat is off to the teachers for their understanding, the students for their courage, and Dan Grant for walking with the students in this 7.3 mile march for voter rights.   - promoted by Karl-Thomas Musselman)

(Crossposted on Daily Kos by dewberry ........  See aerial pictures here. See YouTube video here.)

Courtesy of Ken Basart
See http://www.flickr.com/photos/d... for more pictures

Early voting starts today in Texas.  In Waller County, a primarily rural county about 60 miles outside Houston, the county made the decision to offer only one early voting location:  at the County Courthouse in Hempstead, TX, the county seat.

Prairie View A&M students organized to protest the decision, because they felt it hindered their ability to vote.  For background, Prairie View A&M is one of Texas' historically Black universities.  It has a very different demographic feel than the rest of the county.  There has been a long history of dispute over what the students feel is disenfranchisement.  There was a lot of outrage in 2006, when students felt they were unfairly denied the right to vote when their registrations somehow did not get processed.  

Students lined up to vote
Courtesy of Ken Basart

According to an article in today's Houston Chronicle:

Waller County has faced numerous lawsuits involving voting rights in the past 30 years and remains under investigation by the Texas Attorney General's Office based on complaints by local black leaders. Those allegations, concerning the November 2006 general election, related to voting machine failures, inadequate staffing and long delays for voting results.

The article adds,

"I was angry after registering to vote in the 2006 election only to be turned away at the voting booth," said sophomore Dee Dee Williams.

So what are the students doing?  

1000 students, along with an additional 1000 friends and supporters, are this morning walking the 7.3 miles between Prairie View and Hempstead in order to vote today.  According to the piece I saw on the news (there's no video up, so I can't link to it), the students plan to all vote today. There are only 2 machines available at the courthouse for early voting, so they hope to tie them up all day and into the night.

Thanks to the students' efforts, with a little help from the Federal Government, additional early voting sites will be open (just not right away):

Under pressure from the federal government, Waller County on Tuesday added three temporary polling places for early voting, ditching plans to open only one voting site in advance of the March 4 primary.

   The Justice Department questioned the county's January decision to cut early-voting sites from a half dozen throughout the county to just one in Hempstead. The county's about-face came on the same day that vocal critics announced a mass march to the polls next week.

   Commissioners made the change in an emergency session Tuesday to address questions from federal voting officials about whether one site would infringe on the rights of minority voters.

   Early voting begins Tuesday, but the additional sites won't open until the end of next week. They will be available for voters from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 22 and 23.

Source:  Houston Chronicle:

Anyway, no matter what candidate you support, I just thought this was a great story.  I love to see the kids acting in positive ways to affect change.

Here's a little bit more information from Black America Web.

(Crossposted on Daily Kos by dewberry)  I'm just helping him out since he's not a BOR user yet.

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There is quite a bit more to this story (3.67 / 3)
If you haven't read the dewberry's DK diary, you might not know that Dan Grant, candidate for US Congress District 10, marched with the students to vote this morning.

And you might not know that this is not the first time Waller County has tried voter suppression tactics in Waller County specifically targeted to the Prairie View A&M students.

I'm proud that the students at Prairie View A&M continue to speak up and participate in their elections.  I'm sad however that Waller County keeps throwing up these roadblocks to voting.

yes - I want to see pictures! (5.00 / 1)
surely someone who was there is a member??

And if you haven't rec'd at DK yet, please do - this story needs more attention

Hill Country Ride for AIDSmy HCRA Page

[ Parent ]
a picture would be amazing (4.00 / 2)
That would really make this story perfect for promotion. Not that it couldn't without it, just saying.

[ Parent ]
What an amazing story (4.00 / 2)
Kudos and hugs to all of the students and their supporters for standing up for their right to vote.  

[ Parent ]
OK... (3.00 / 1)
Thanks, DMayeux!

"A time comes when silence is betrayal." Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

[ Parent ]
Donate to the Candidate who stood with the Students (0.00 / 0)
Dan Grant Act Blue Page:


[ Parent ]
More Pictures of Dan Grant (5.00 / 1)
These are courtesy of Ken Basart

Dan with Andre Evans, Prairie View Student Body President

Dan with Congressman Al Green

A great democracy must be progressive or it will soon cease to be a great democracy.

- Theodore Roosevelt

[ Parent ]
Thank you for those (0.00 / 0)
Great photos!

[ Parent ]
That whole set of pictures is amazing (5.00 / 1)
I viewed them as a sideshow.  There are a couple of students in line to vote.  Now talk about a line.

I wonder how long it took them to get through the line.

Flickr photo ablum

[ Parent ]
Um.. (3.00 / 1)
Both our good CD 10 Democrats, Larry Joe Doherty and Dan Grant, stood with the students and participated in the event. Where was Mike McCaul?

[ Parent ]
Good point, janevieu... (0.00 / 0)
...where was McCaul? MIA, as usual.

"A time comes when silence is betrayal." Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

[ Parent ]
Or support... (0.00 / 0)
The candidate who marched with the students.

Larry Joe Doherty Marches with Prairie View A&M.


[ Parent ]
They were both there, Rachel... (0.00 / 0)
I called the Grant campaign to ask why they hadn't issued a press release. The response was that they felt this day was about the students and not the race for the CD10 Democratic nomination.

Both Larry Joe and Dan did the right thing by showing their support of the students at PVAMU.

"A time comes when silence is betrayal." Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

[ Parent ]
awesome (4.33 / 3)
man, this gives you goosebumps.  It's been so long since we've seen this much energy centered around the right to vote, and exercising that right.

Hats off to Prairie View.  You are an inspiration for the state, and the country.


"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

Kudo's to the students, faculty, staff AND (4.00 / 2)
...the organization of the Democratic Party leaders in Prairie View (the town) and in Waller County at large!

It's been very excited to help out, if only tangentially, work on the behalf of voter's rights and Congressional District 10 awareness at PVAMU!

"A time comes when silence is betrayal." Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

hear hear! (3.00 / 2)
Agreed on that.  

[ Parent ]
I'll e-mail the Waller Dem. Chair and see... (3.00 / 1)
if she has photo's she can e-mail me...Then I can get them loaded.

"A time comes when silence is betrayal." Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

[ Parent ]
Story link - tips to dewberry (3.00 / 2)
My Fox Houston
Prairie View A&M Student March for Campus Voting Rights
Tuesday, 19 Feb 2008

Students at Prairie View A&M march to their closest voting location, which is 7 miles away from campus.

Students attending Prairie View A&M University have begun marching throughout Waller County to protest the lack of early voting centers near the campus.

The students organized the Tuesday rally to convince lawmakers to allow early voting on campus, since other county voting centers are long distances away from the Prairie View.

The walk will extend to more than seven miles to the Waller County courthouse, the only full-time early voting site in the county.

Waller County administrators agreed to add several area early voting sites, but the polling places are not scheduled to open for several days, cutting into the early voting period.

Nice aerial shot of the crowd too.

Slideshow of the march (3.00 / 2)
Again tips to dewberry who found the pictures and story on MyFox Houston

slideshow of march

[ Parent ]
Another story link with video (5.00 / 1)
Police estimated that the crowd topped 2,000 as the marchers paraded from the Prairie View A&M campus seven miles to the Waller County Courthouse in Hempstead.

It was just last week, after U.S. Justice Department officials got involved, that Waller County authorities added three temporary polling places for early voting. Still, those locations do not open until Friday.

Voters rights have long been a sore subject in Waller County. The county has been embroiled in a number of lawsuits for more than two decades and the Texas Attorney General's Office is still investigating how the county conducts elections after complaints by local black leaders.

Tips to KT

[ Parent ]
The video shows a portrait of Obama done by a student (0.00 / 0)
He's a great guy. I talked at length with him while helping with a voter registration drive. Here's a photo from that day with the artist (on the left of the photo) on Dan Grant's (Dem. Candidate for Congress/CD10)right hand side.


"A time comes when silence is betrayal." Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

[ Parent ]
It's good to see that Dan has understood... (0.00 / 0)
...the importance of Prairie View A&M and the needs of the only university in CD10 since long before the march!

"A time comes when silence is betrayal." Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

[ Parent ]
wonderful picture (5.00 / 1)
The artist that did that painting of Obama has a lot of talent.

[ Parent ]
And a genuinely warm heart! n/t (0.00 / 0)

"A time comes when silence is betrayal." Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

[ Parent ]
Crooks and Liars blog post (3.00 / 1)
[ Parent ]
Americablog picked it up, too! (0.00 / 0)

"A time comes when silence is betrayal." Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

[ Parent ]
This is Democracy in action (5.00 / 1)
Great post, sonia.  To the Prarie View students, way to not take voter suppression lying down.  I hope this story gets some national traction.

News story from the PVU Panther (5.00 / 1)
Thousands march to vote 2/20/08
A few thousand students marched 7.2 miles to the Hempstead City Courthouse and 1,000 voted in inadequate voting space. The Precinct 3 County Commissioner neglected to have enough polls available for the vast number of PV students. Polls were also not conveniently provided on campus because county leaders didn't feel Prairie View students would actively vote and that the Memorial Student Center was too chaotic for a polling site.

The "Rock the Vote" campaign coordinator, Jemiah Richards, said that it was very important for students to participate in the march because Waller County often ignores the students and their needs. "There's no reason why we shouldn't be like Texas A&M or the University of Texas in Austin," said Richards, a senior accounting major. "The difference is that we don't exercise our power."

Although students were tired from the long walk, they were still motivated.

"A lot of people have made a lot of sacrifices for us to vote in the past," said senior health major Elizabeth Chante Ashford. "We need to vote. It shouldn't be an option."

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