Caribbean nationals on the first day of early voting in New York, Oct. 24, lined up for hours at Intermediate School 68 on 81nd Street in Canarsie, Brooklyn, determined to cast their ballots during a historic voter-turnout for a presidential election.
Some, who said they had been on line for more than seven hours, others, longer, were fired up to speak to this reporter about why they were prepared to wait for as long as possible to get into a voting booth.
Wearing a mask emblazed with the words, “I am a voter,” 28-year-old Crystal-Angeleeburell, an activist, said she was determined to stand on line for how long it took to vote.
“I will leave after I vote. This election is about the soul and integrity of America, that is why I am standing on line, and I am voting, Biden, Harris, she said.
Brooklyn-born, Angeleeburell, with her Jamaican mother, said this election means more than ever for the generations to come. “I have been protesting, I have donated funds to elect people who align with my values, I mentor, and I think primarily, we must vote, she urged.
Marcia Beckford, Crystal’s mother who is inspired by her daughter’s activism, noted that the first day of voting was a proud moment for her, and an opportunity to vote, not only as a Democrat, but because a black woman, and a woman of Jamaican heritage, could create history as the first female vice pPresident of America.
The line was wrapped around Avenue J, 81st Street, Flatlands Avenue and 82nd Street, where everyone was socially distant, and wearing masks, like Dahlia Slater, another Jamaican-born, who wants to get rid of President Trump.
“He is making all of these changes that are not fair to us, whatever he is doing will affect my kids, and my grand kids,” she said, insisting. “We have to vote. If you are a citizen, you should exercise that right,” she urged.
First time voter, Dean Harty, said “we have to get rid of President Trump, he has no respect, and he is not for us. He says he is not racist, but he is racist. I think Biden will do a better job, not for just Democrats, but for America. Whatever I have to do, I am going to wait and vote.”
Lorraine, a Guyanese native, who stood on line with her daughter Dale for more than seven hours, said. “I am not moving until I vote. I am tired of Donald Trump. I want peace, security, and reasonableness, she said.
Reverend Althea Bailey, of St Ann’s Jamaica, who sat on a beach chair, was eager to cast her ballot. She reminded, that it is a privilege to vote.
“We stand on the shoulders of people who paved the way before us. It is an opportunity to make the change that we want to happen. I consider early voting an opportunity to come out in “live and in living color” to cast my vote, to be the change we want to see.”
From Carmen Craig-Lawrence, a Jamaican-American who said waiting on a long line to vote was worth it, to Bylene Hendrickson of Nevis, who wants her voice to be counted for change in America, to a Haitian voter who has four children and wants America to help them, and future generations to have a brighter future, to African Americans from South Carolina, who are looking for a sense of decency from government, and the next generation to be treated fairly, all were committed to casting their ballots.
Finally, after a five-hour wait, Judy, a Barbadian-American, stepped out of the voting site wearing a sticker that said, I voted Early. With a smile on her face, she shared, “it was all worth it. “I did it for my American-born grandson. I am happy, I voted for Joe Biden,” she added.
According to the Board of Election, more than 93,000 voted on the first day of early voting. Early voting ends on Nov. 1.
Election Day is Nov. 3. Get out and vote!