The impending election and the importance of the vote were hot topics at the 2012 NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet Saturday.
As Americans of all races and nationalities ponder who they will vote for as president next month, Reginald Hines, Deputy Director Division of Community Corrections for the Oklahoma State Department of Corrections, told a crowd gathered at Bethlehem Baptist Church that they should understand the gravity of their voting power and not simply cast it aside and stay home Nov. 6.
"The theme of my speech tonight is 'your people, your decision, your vote,'" he told the group. "The ability to vote is one of the most cherished of our Constitutional rights. African-Americans have overcome these attempts at keeping us from voting. You should not take that right for granted."
Hines ascended to his position through a life of hard work from humble beginnings. Growing up on the east side of Oklahoma City in a government housing project, he said it took a school friend telling him that he was poor for him to truly realize the gravity of his situation. He was raised by a single mother who had no education past elementary school. He told the NAACP sponsors and supporters Saturday that he was a product of schools "when they were called 'separate but equal.'" He credits his natural basketball talents for giving him the kick start he needed to get ahead in life.
"If I didn't get a scholarship to college to play basketball, I don't know where I would be today," Hines said.
The speaker touched upon the hardships that African-Americans have endured in the United States to get where they are today, and to have the opportunity to vote. He said their successes can be attributed to their education and determination.