An 86-year-old woman talks about voting for the first time

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86-year-old Chris Reed sitting laughing with family

86-year-old Chris Reed sitting laughing with family

Chris Reed is approaching her 87th birthday in December and has voted in every presidential election that allowed her to vote. Growing up in the south was difficult for an African American woman who was not at all familiar with the voting process. This upcoming presidential election has been one of the most important elections to Reed, and she has seen many elections in her day.

Q: So how old were you when you actually, um, got the opportunity to vote?

A: “Oh I was, let me see, 20 cause I didn’t vote down south and when I came up here, I was up here for about a year or something before I even ya know, cause we didn’t vote and I voted after I got up here mhm.”

Q: Why didn’t you vote down south?

A: “Well to tell you the truth, my parents. The election and stuff down there was strange. In fact, you didn’t hear too much about voting.”

Q: So part of the reason why, um you didn’t vote or your parents didn’t vote was cause you couldn’t?

A: Couldn’t that’s right. It was really segregated. Like I said, I went to school with all Blacks. There was no such thing as Black and White kids going to school. When I got up here, it was like a new thing.”

Q: What was the first presidential election you voted in, and who did you vote for?

A: “I remember I voted cause I didn’t vote until I moved up here, and I had just finished high school. It wasn’t Truman, I remember Eisenhower.”

Q: So how did you feel when you actually got to vote. How did it make you feel?

A: “Oh my gosh. Oh it felt good. I had heard about elections, but I couldn’t and when I got that opportunity, oh yes! And another thing, it really changed when I came up here from down south up here it was the segregation. There was segregation but it wasn’t so open.”

Q: How do you feel about the current candidates and their policies?

A: “Well I go along with Clinton. I think her ideas especially with her being a woman and you know how we don’t get paid and stuff like that. Her um … I just like the way she talk, and the way, you know, she just brings it right down you know? Women work, and if they work and are doing the same job they should get it paid. She talks about security and Medicare. Cause you know he [Trump] been talkin’ about getting rid of it and stuff and taxes and she said no. I like her points, I really do. The way she talk. I just love it. And him, he fiddle around too much. I just don’t agree with a lot of what he says, but I go along with her because she talks about security for us, you know and jobs and going to school.”

“It was a long time before I got through paying for Mike to go to college. Because just like I said, they wanted the money after they graduate. They were sending me letters to pay the money back you know. A lot of times, that’s why a lot of Black kids didn’t go to college because the parents didn’t have the money. But see, I like the way Obama did, and I like the way she talk about kids going to college and preparing them to get a loan after they get out of college to pay the money back you know. And he talk about getting rid of security and Medicaid and stuff like this.”

Q: Do you feel like it’s more important that people get out and vote in this election?

A: “I think so. More so. Yes indeed and I bet you a lot of people are gone (going to) vote too. That’s one of the reasons. ‘Cause just like I said, he just don’t talk. You can’t afford the taxes, and you pay more taxes all this stuff. Rich people can pay it. I like her views, I like her point, and I think she will live up to it. But he comes right on out and says what he … And I think her views, and her opinions and things, now it’ll hit for us people that ain’t got money, working for our money and ain’t got billions of dollars and everything.”

“Why go up on our taxes when the rich people ain’t paying that much taxes. You can’t afford to pay what they pay. And they been talking, he ain’t paid in what 18 years. Look at all that money. And that’s another thing. I like her views, I like her opinions and I think that she, and not only because she is a woman but because she knows, you know. And then he just comes right out and tells you what he hates. At least you wouldn’t be so bold about it. I like the views, I do, I really do. Mmm.”

Q: So I know you voted today, did you vote absentee?

A: “Yeah. My son was on us, dead on us about votin’. And I said I didn’t feel good, and he said well you know they got absentee ballots with his nosy self. He know everything. I didn’t know nothin’. He said yeah you gone vote, you gone vote. I’m taking you. I had heard about absentee ballots, and I said me and Jane and my friend, um we goin’.  She said my car ain’t runnin’. Mike said you don’t need no car, you can get an absentee ballot. From then on I get an absentee ballot mmm. It ain’t no excuse to not vote. And I think a lot of people are gone (going to) vote. You gone have more voting this time.

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