What is the meaning of "the vote?” I know it’s a method of expressing opinions/ electing persons to office/ implementing the collective will of a group. But, what does it mean?

We have many examples in history of holding individuals in bondage for economic or political reasons, etc. The evolution of the concept of slavery has enabled us to explore and define freedom, and the right to vote.

The vote, fragile still today, is powerful because there’s a consensus it is a right. Fifty-four years ago this summer, en route to Holly Springs, Miss., I learned three civil rights workers had gone missing. My friend Kathy, who had joined the voting rights project, called. Freedom Summer called asking me to bring her car to Mississippi.

I believed in “the vote” and welcomed the chance to help. Over the course of that bloody summer in 1964, I realized that the vote can never be taken for granted, that hate can suppress it and only profound respect for each other can protect it. It is an act that can be cynically manipulated or support a Democratic process.

The vote embodies a value that can protect us from tyranny. Over the course of time people have given their lives to realize this noble goal that protects the democratic process. Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner, civil rights workers who were murdered that Freedom Summer, knew its importance. I think of them especially now. I look for ways I can honor their memory.

— Kathleen Murguia, Tehachapi