VOTE!

It seems that election coverage is all over the place right now and with a presidential election just a few months away, that's to be expected. And no, I am absolutely not interested in telling you who to vote for but I am urging you and pleading with you find out about the candidates and VOTE.

If I may, I'd like to share a rather personal story regarding the first time I was eligible to vote for president. I turned 18 in November of 1993 so I was finally old enough to vote in the 1996 presidential election, in which Bill Clinton and Bob Dole were the candidates. And then a family tragedy struck.

In late October of 1996, I got a middle-of-the-night phone call with the most devastating news of an unexpected death of a family member - the cousin raised more as my brother who was just 17 years old. My best and closest friend. It shook me and I went into a strange period of disconnect. I was essentially a robot and I had no idea what was going on in real life.

In mid-November, a college classmate said she purchased several Halloween costumes on clearance and even got some presidential candidate masks. I suddenly felt a rush of awareness. I had missed Halloween but more importantly, I had missed the election.

The guilt of missing the election was heavy on my heart. Being a woman, I have never lost sight of the fact that many fought and some died so that I could vote one day. And back in 1996, women had only had the right to vote for 76 years. Being a woman of color, I never, ever forgot the way my own mother was treated when trying to vote after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed. My eyes swelled with tears thinking of all those who fought and those who died trying to get me -a woman of color - the right to vote. I let them down.

I don't take the right to vote for granted and I vote in every election - presidential or not. Again, I cannot tell you who you should vote for but I can plead with you to go out and vote. Not sure who to vote for? Try any of these:

I Side With

Washington Post Voters Guide

ATPE Teach the Vote

Roll Call Election Guide

Across the country, there are 34 Senate seats and 435 House seats up for election on November 8, 2016. State representatives, judges, and commissioners are up for election, too. These are the individuals who make decisions on laws that affect our lives - especially the future of our students. Read up on these candidates. And please VOTE on November 8.

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