Daddy Floyd was a tall man. He stood 6-foot-4, had dark skin and smoked a pipe that made the entire house smell like flowers, cinnamon and lilac. I loved when my great grand father grabbed his pipe for an early evening smoke after walking the streets of Hamtramck as a post man.
Daddy Floyd not only took pride in delivering the mail on time, but he made sure every bundle was stacked neatly in the mail box. Daddy Floyd had a cool demeaner and a soothing voice. He was not old enough to be a slave, but he knew people who were slaves.
During our daily walks to the corner store for pipe Tabaco, animal crackers and candy Daddy Floyd told me stories about the people he grew up with in Georgia. He sat me down and pounded one theme in my head.
Vote. Vote. Vote.
Since the age of 18 I have not missed a vote because of Daddy Floyd. People died for my right to vote — in wars and in the streets. People were beaten for my right to vote. Daddy Floyd saw blacks get beaten while trying to vote. He had an expression. “They beat the tar out of those poor people.”
He said the Klan lined up near black voting precincts. Often they did not incite violence. Just their presence caused some black people to return home and skip voting that year.
Daddy Floyd walked past the Klan and cast his vote. No one messed with him. He admitted that his heart was beating halfway up his throat. But he voted.
“I can’t ask you to do something I was not willing to do,” he once said.
As far as I know nobody has tried to prevent me from voting. Mostly I stand in line with my wife Abs surrounded by strangers, friends and neighbors. No one has told me not to vote in those lines.
I already voted by dropping my ballot off at my county clerks office. However, voter suppression is still in existence today. In some states they want to limit the number of drop off sights to one per county. I’d still vote if that were the case in Michigan. But a lot of people would not.
My Aunt Margo worked as a precinct ambassador on Detroit’s west side for a number of years and she turned comical when I asked how things went for her after an election.
“Awful,” she said. “We got these old ass machines that take forever. White folks in the suburbs have modern machines and punch cards that make things go quicker. Black folks have to vote with a hammer and chisel.”
Whether I vote with a black ball point pen or hammer and chisel I am going to vote. It is my civic duty and it is my pledge to Daddy Floyd. It’s the least I can do for all the animal crackers he bought for me.Find Terry Foster Podcast here: