A very short story that I wrote after observing how some people did a lot of complaining but never put forth any effort to resolve anything. Some people don't understand what is really going on when it comes to voting and do not have a desire to know.
©2019 Rosalin Grace
The Black townsfolk were upset over the beating Bubba Wells had gotten at the hands of two White police officers. This wasn't the first time something like that had happened.
"How long is the Black man going to be treated like this?" Mabel Stevens angrily asked. "When are Black folks going to stand up and demand justice? It's time for a revolution, I tell you. A revolution!" She held her tightly clenched fist high over her head in a Black power gesture.
There was some clapping and cheering from the audience of about 50 people.
Reverend Leroy Price stood up, motioning with his hands for the people to settle down. "Now, now, my people. We must pray for wisdom and strength during these times," he said solemnly.
Mabel jumped up again and shouted "It's time out for praying, Reverend. We been praying for years now, and what has it gotten us? Nothing, but another Black man being mistreated by White folks! It's time for a revolution!"
More clapping and cheers arose from the audience.
"That's right, Mabel," Joseph Smith shouted. "Ain't nothing gonna happen until we tear down this system."
Marcus Knowles was a college graduate who had just landed a great job in another city. He was preparing to relocate in a few weeks. "The best way to bring about change is to vote these bad people out of office."
"I'm glad you brought that up, Marcus," Ellis Polk said as he stood up. "Because I have an announcement to make. I'm going to run for mayor of this town."
At first there was dead silence. Then someone snickered, and then someone outright laughed.
"I see most of you are shocked, but I'm dead serious. I'm qualified, and I plan to give Mayor Richardson a run for his money." Ellis Polk was the short-order cook down at Skeeter's Cafe.
"You sho' you qualified? You just a cook in a cafe," Joseph Smith interjected.
"Like I said, I'm qualified, I have already applied and been accepted into this race. Now, it's up to you good people in this town to put me in office. Once I'm in office, I'm going to fire that crooked police chief and put somebody in charge who is fair to all the people." Ellis was already in campaign mode.
"What makes you think these White folks gonna let you be mayor?" Mabel asked.
"I don't expect them to let me be mayor. I expect you good people to elect me as mayor of this town," Ellis said.
The meeting soon ended, with no plan established to deal with the injustices they felt were being dealt out to the Black community. That is, except for Ellis Polk planning to run for mayor.
The next day, Sadie Thomas met with Ellis Polk and assured him that she was on board with getting him elected. Sadie was an intelligent woman who had been trying for years to get her people to wake up and realize that they had the power to save themselves. "I will work on getting folks registered to vote," she told Ellis. "Maybe with one of our own in the race, the people will be more willing to become registered voters than they have been in the past," she said hopefully.
Later that day, Jada Jones was sitting on the steps in front of her rented flat when Mabel walked up.
"I didn't see you at the meeting last night," Mabel said to Jada.
"Girl, I had a date last night. We passed by the hall and saw all the cars," Jada said nonchalantly.
"Y'all should have stopped and come in 'cause things got real interesting," Mabel said, ready to spread a little gossip.
Jada laughed. "My date said ain't nothing going to change until Black people unite and work together."
"Well, guess who decided to run for mayor? None other than Ellis Polk," Mabel said, making her disapproval known by the tone of her voice.
"Ellis Polk? Ain't he the cook down at Skeeter's?" Jada asked in disbelief.
"That's the one. He thinks he can be the mayor," Mabel said, doubling over with laughter.
"Well, I wonder what he thinks he can do," Jada said, shaking her head from side to side.
They both continued for several more minutes laughing and joking about Ellis Polk running for mayor. Saying how some Black folks were too big for their britches, and who in their right mind could imagine Skeeter's cook being the mayor? Please!
Mayor Fred Robertson had also started his re-election campaign. He had already heard about that nigger trying to get in on the race. Nobody had challenged him in years and he didn't like being challenged now. He was just going to have to sweet-talk these niggers into voting for him, a man of experience, instead of that damn cook.
Mayor Robertson met with his Chief of Police.
"I want you to keep things nice and peaceful around this town until this race is over and I'm re-elected mayor. Don't bother these niggers, just let 'em do what they want to. Don't make any arrests unless you just absolutely have to. I want these niggers to think that everything is alright, that things ain't so bad with me being mayor. Do you understand me, Chief?"
"Sure, boss," Jack Yates confirmed his understanding. "But I don't know if it's a good idea to let the darkies do what they want to do. They might start thinking they are entitled to do what they want to do." He was skeptical. "But I'll do whatever you say, boss."
Sadie ran into Marcus Knowles. He was jogging towards her as she was making her rounds in the neighborhood trying to get folks registered to vote. "Marcus, can I have a word with you?" she asked when he was alongside her. "I won't keep you long, I promise," she added.
Marcus stopped and bent over with his hands on his knees, breathing hard. "Ok, Miss Sadie," he said.
"I was just thinking that it would be a good idea for you to run for mayor too. If Ellis can run, so can you. And maybe folks won't be so skeptical about somebody with a college education. What do you say, Marcus?"
Marcus looked at her in disbelief. "You're kidding, right?"
"No, I'm serious, Marcus. You would certainly make a good mayor. No offense to Ellis."
"Naw, I'm not interested. First, I don't think these people in this town would even bother to vote. How're you doing getting them to even register, Miss Sadie?"
"Well, it's going slow. They have all kinds of excuses as to why they don't vote and don't want to vote."
"That's exactly what I'm talking about. These people don't want any help."
"We just need to educate them, Marcus. I know you can help do that."
"Not me. I've got a good job all lined up in Atlanta. I'm going to make me a fortune, and when I do, I'm going to get my family out of this town too." He jogged off down the street.
Sadie went on down the block. She saw Mabel and Jada in front of Jada's place.
"Hello, ladies," Sadie greeted the women.
The two ladies spoke to Sadie.
"What do y'all think about Ellis running for mayor," Sadie asked.
Both ladies chuckled.
"All I can say is who died and left him in charge," Mabel said.
"I don't know what to say. I guess he got a right to run if he wants to," Jada said.
"The thing is, we need to support our brother in this race. We all need to vote for him. I'm trying to make sure everybody is registered. Are you ladies registered voters?" Sadie asked.
"I haven't voted in a while," Mabel said. "I used to vote but I never saw what difference it made."
"No, I never voted, so I'm not registered," Jada said.
Sadie reached inside of the tote bag she was carrying and pulled out two voter registration cards. "Here you go," she said, handing both Mabel and Jada a card. "Just fill out this form and I'll be by to collect it tomorrow. We all need to vote!"
Sadie went on down the street and stopped at the next house.
Mabel said goodbye to Jada and crossed the street. She walked down a few houses and disappeared inside a little green house with a white picket fence.
Both Ellis Polk and Mayor Richardson put on a fierce campaign to win the race. Mayor Richardson was throwing a free fish-fry or barbecue every weekend. Ellis on the other hand, was only dishing out cookies and punch at his rallies. More than once, nobody at all showed up for Ellis Polk's rally. But that didn't stop Ellis from going through his speech to empty chairs--empty that is, except for Sadie Thomas.
After one such empty rally, Ellis came down from the podium and sat in the empty chair next to Sadie . He hung his head and said "I just don't understand why the people won't even come out and hear what I have to say."
"They're too busy eating barbecue and fish, Ellis."
"I guess they don't see that old Richardson is just making a fool of them. They won't be getting any free meals when the election is over," Ellis said.
"Well, I'm hoping they come out to vote next week. Although I didn't get half the registration cards back from folks. Some people never answered their doors, some said they had lost the card and didn't have time to fill another one out. Some people had the nerve to say they didn't believe in voting! I'm beginning to think Marcus is right--these people don't want any help."
Election day had finally arrived. Ellis Polk cast his vote for himself early that morning. Sadie had sent out word that she would be giving rides to the polls. Folks that needed a ride were to be at the intersection of Main and Bodie Streets at 7am, 1pm, an 3pm. Only a few people showed up for the rides at 7am and 1pm. Nobody showed up for a ride at 3pm.
Sadie noticed that mostly White folks were at the polls, and she wondered where all the Black folks were. Ellis sure ain't gonna win like this, she thought to herself.
By noon the next day, everybody in town knew that Mayor Richardson won the race by a landslide. Poor Ellis didn't get but a few dozen votes. Sadie Thomas was mad as hell about the Black people not supporting Ellis. She made it a point to stop by every house and ask them point-blank if they had voted. Hearing some of the excuses for not going to the polls made Sadie even madder than she was before. Jada Jones had the nerve to say she just plum forgot to go vote, and she ended up riding over to the casino with her boyfriend. Joseph Smith didn't try to make up an excuse for not voting, he said he plain didn't trust the system so he sure wasn't going to participate in it. Mabel Stevens stated matter-of-factly that she would start voting after the revolution and not a minute before. Marcus Knowles left town for his new job in Atlanta before election day and he didn't bother with an absentee vote.
Everything returned to normal, like it was before the race for mayor started. There were no more free barbecues and fish fries. Police Chief Yates gave his officers the word to get back to keeping the Blacks in line. Officer Bernie Goodman was glad things were getting back to normal because he enjoyed putting fear into the darkies. He rode up and down the streets of the Black neighborhood .
The Black people continued to complain about White harassment. Mabel Stevens continued to call for a revolution. Sadie Thomas kept trying to convince folks that sticking together and voting was the best way to change things, but most of them did not believe it. They just didn't believe the White folks would ever let the Black folks do anything worth anything.
After he got beat so bad in the election, Ellis quit his job at Skeeter's and went up north where he opened up his own restaurant. Folks say he's doing real well too.
Reverend Price continued to pray for the people.