When I vote, it is an act that spans generations. During World War II, my grandfather Salvador García was an army soldier from Texas. In France, he fought to defeat the Nazis. When he returned after the war, his five children were still forced to attend underfunded, segregated schools. In the face of relentless discrimination at home, he and my grandmother Enriqueta voted religiously for the remainder of their lives.
Meanwhile, Pedro Barrientos, my other grandfather and a fellow Texan, taught himself to read and write after leaving a “Mexican school” in the 3rd grade to help with the family farm. Later, his own children would go on to attend segregated schools. However, when Pedro and his wife Margarita went to vote for better conditions, they had to pay a poll-tax, so only Pedro voted. In order to cast his vote each election, he paid the tax until it was outlawed in 1964. My family preserved his 1950s poll-tax receipts as a cautious reminder of the days when voting was a privilege, not a fundamental right.
Decades later, in 1989, I began my duty as a voter. I was an 18-year old high school senior. I will never forget the feeling that through this simple act, combined with that of my family and neighbors, I could possibly make a difference. I stood in line with my voter registration card and nervously waited my turn. My own high school was aging, and it needed improvements, so I voted in favor of the school bond. When the votes were tallied, we learned the bond passed. It was a victory, and from that moment I was hooked.
Like my grandparents and my parents, I have voted in every eligible election. Most years, I vote to honor the sacrifices of my grandparents, and I vote to create a safe America for my children and their progeny. Schools, roads, and other public services are always good reasons to vote.
In 2020, however, I vote for something far greater, unimaginable to my grandparents. Am I excited to be part of the generation that preserves the longest-running democracy the world has ever known? ¡Claro que sí!
Written by Belinda de la Libertad, Founder and Managing Partner at A-Z Techs, a digital asset management firm that puts people first. Belinda is also a long-time digital rights advocate and a member of the LCF’s Orange County Giving Circle.