In his “Give Us the Ballot” speech delivered on May 17, 1957 Dr. King stated, “So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote, I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind — it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact -- I can only submit to the edicts of others.” Today, more than sixty years after Dr King uttered these words, new and even more insidious methods have been developed to prevent black, brown and disabled people from voting. The poll taxes, literacy tests and grandfather clauses of the past have been replaced by gerrymandering, voter ID laws, closure of polling locations, and purging of voter rolls, to name but a few recent examples. People with disabilities, immigrants, people of color all find their ability to vote and participate in the democratic process much diminished if not outright eliminated. What happens when one is a member of all three categories? What does it mean for the promise of America when its most fundamental right, the right to vote, is threatened for so many vulnerable citizens?
Khadijat Rashid is a deaf, immigrant woman of color and is currently Dean of the School of Education, Business and Human Services at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. She has been on the faculty at Gallaudet since 1994, teaching political economy, international development, and development economics. She is the co-editor of Citizenship, Politics, Difference: Perspectives from Sub-Saharan African Communities and has published and given presentations on numerous topics.
Presented by the University of Virginia's American Sign Language Program, the Disability Studies Initiative, and the Office of the Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity & Equity.