A reporter for the Greenfield Massachusetts Recorder had the good sense to interview civil rights veteran (and long-time tax resister) Juanita Nelson in the wake of ’s inaugural hoopla.
Here’s what she had to say. (Excerpts):
For all of the celebrating in the nation’s capital and around the country as the nation’s first black president was sworn in, Juanita Nelson’s reaction was, well, reserved.
The 85-year-old African-American woman, who has been active throughout her life in civil rights, anti-war, tax refusal and other social justice movements, has a skeptical outlook on the Obama presidency as a watershed event.
“I think it’s interesting, but it doesn’t necessarily warm the cockles of my heart,” said Nelson. “He’s going to be presiding over something that’s the same old, same old. He’s only one person.”
Nelson says she didn’t even vote for Obama — or for anyone else, in fact. The only election in which she’s cast a ballot, for that matter, was for Franklin Delano Roosevelt in . The same holds true for her late husband, Wally, who died in at the age of 93, and who[m] she had first met as a newspaper reporter covering his imprisonment as a conscientious objector — he’d walked out of a Civilian Public Service Camp that felt like “slave labor.”
“There’s not anything to vote for,” said Nelson. “I vote with what I do or don’t do. I have to do what I believe in, you have to do what you believe in.”
What a rare and heartwarming surprise it is to hear Thoreauvian echoes in the hills this cold .
The fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls — the worst man is as strong as the best at that game; it does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning.