Unita Blackwell joined the Civil Rights movement when she realized that her poverty was connected to the laws that prevented her from voting, because she was black. She talks here about the importance of taking that first step in voting – registration. In 1960s Mississippi, voter registration was both difficult and dangerous if you were black.
The interview with Ms. Blackwell is from 1997. But the struggle for fair voting laws and procedures continues today. Many states are again making it difficult to register and vote. Unita Blackwell explains that if someone is trying to take away your right to vote, it's because that vote means something important, and rather than giving up, you should fight for your right to share in the political power and the rights of citizenship that comes from your vote.
Unita Blackwell became an organizer for SNCC, the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. And in the 1976 she became Mayor of Mayersville, Mississippi. Despite being the County Seat for Issaquena County, there were no paved road, sewage or water systems. Residents also had no good housing. Mayor Blackwell changed all that, incorporating the town for the first time, which qualified it for Federal grants. She then paved the roads, named the streets, put in sewage and water systems, built new housing and created a city park where cotton fields once stood. She demonstrated the power of the vote.
This Public Service Announcement was produced by Passage Film, Inc. The 1997 interview made with Ms. Blackwell by Passage Film’s owner, Kent Moorhead. This PSA is copyrighted to protect the interview with Unita Blackwell from being used in another context. But if you are an individual or group promoting voting rights, Passage Film, inc. encourages you to share or embed this video, free of charge.