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Monday, May 29, 2023
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Clarksville NAACP’s voter registration drive and rally

The NAACP LogoI attended the Clarksville NAACP’s voter registration drive and rally today.

I made plans to share space with Debbie Boen and her Clarksville Free Thinkers for Peace and Civil Liberties display in the week leading up to the registration drive and rally.

While we were discussing the rally and making the arrangements to share her space, we discussed offering free ice cold drinks as a means to draw people to the displays. Debbie was to supply the ice chest and the ice, and I volunteered to purchase the drinks.

Three days before the event, I printed on my work’s color laser printer two signs. One stated in red, white, and blue letters on a black background:

Ice Cold

The other simply said that the drinks were courtesy of this web site and the Clarksville Free Thinkers for Peace and Civil Liberties.

I planned on giving out business cards with information about this site to the people at the rally, which would be this web sites official openings to the public. Before doing that, only people I had personally told, knew about the site. I picked the cards up the day before the event.

So, shortly before arriving at the rally, I stopped and bought, two 12 packs each of Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Dr Pepper, and four 24 bottle cases of bottled water.

I arrived at the site around noon. It was very hot and sunny. Fortunately for us, there was a good breeze blowing through the area.

I saw Debbie and parked close to where she was unloading her stuff. Turning on my hazard blinkers, I unloaded the sodas and bottled waters from my car and carried them to Debbie’s table. I returned and moved my car into a near by parking space.

As promised Debbie had her ice chest there and three bags of ice. I put a bag of ice in the chest and then put in a 12 pack of each kind of soft drink and 24 bottles of water. Once I had all the cans and bottles standing up in the ice, I put two more bags of ice on top. I closed the ice chest and looked around.

The area that we were in, was basically a big square in the middle of the parking lot. At one end were two radio stations tables and a stage. On the other three sides were approximately 20 tables. Most of them were political candidates and their able teams of campaign workers. There were a few civic organizations, one which representing Hispanic individuals; one which opposed proposition 1, which seeks to amend the Tennessee Constitution and ban for a second time, gay marriage in Tennessee; members of the Clarksville Civil rights commission; and several others were present.

I won’t go into details of the individual candidates, the speeches they later gave, or their political message (except for two exceptions later on in this piece). The primary purpose of this event was voter registration.

Shortly after I arrived Terry McMoore announced that the first person had been registered to vote!

My head was burning up due to my dark hair. I also noticed that I was rapidly getting red and so decided to check in the Dollar General store located nearby for a hat, sun glasses, and sunscreen. Not finding any sun glasses there that I liked, I bit the bullet and headed for Wal-mart, which was the closest store likely to have the items I was looking for.

I found what I needed and headed back out to my car. I promptly covered my exposed skin with a healthy dose of the SPF50 sun screen. I was already wearing the hat and sun glasses.

I drove back to the rally location parking my car heading back to where I left Debbie. When I arrived I found that she had moved, and was now sharing a tent with Gregg A. Schlanger candidate for the County Commission and Chris Lugo who’s running for the US Senate.

Gregg and I carried the full ice chest with the soft drinks to the tent. After getting it to where we wanted it, I taped the sign advertising the presence of free drinks to the canopy of the tent and one of the legs supporting it. Due to the breeze, the sign kept whipping back and forth. So, I borrowed a paper plate that Debbie had with her and taped it to the back of the sign providing the support it needed.

At this point with everything that I to do to help with the setup being done. I grabbed some of my Clarksville Online cards and headed into the crowd.

I spoke with many good people, discussed issues, and their stand on them. To each person I gave one of my cards. Many returned the favor giving me their cards, campaign literature, or position papers. I made it about 1/4th of the way around the square which enclosed us and went back to Debbie’s tent and drank a water. I did say “it was very hot and sunny”, didn’t I?

Being stubborn, after I finished the water, I returned to the point I had left off at. Finishing up going around the square, I had given out about 100 cards and I hope every one of them visits this site :) If you, the reader is someone to whom I gave a card today, welcome!

I returned again to the shaded area which was Debbie’s space in the tent.

The political speeches started about this time and we heard from many a promising candidate. As I listened to the speeches, I kept an eye out for anyone passing nearby and offered them a soda or water, and gave each; one of my cards. Debbie also read one of her letters to the assembled crowd which had recently appeared in the Leaf Chronicle paper.

One of the highlights of the day was when two Mormons tried to convert me, I returned the favor. I gave them many things for them to think about, which I believe may be one of my missions in this life: To challenge people’s misconceptions, preconceptions, and beliefs. I didn’t criticize them or their faith. I just explained my beliefs and views on religion, how to have a relationship with God, and gay marriage. Needless to say they were all for amending the Constitution a step which I firmly oppose, we have many other much more serious problems that need our national attention.

Around 4pm the event some individuals started packing up their stuff, around 4:30 it turned into a flood. At 4:45pm Debbie and I decided it was our turn.

It was a great day. I got to meet many interesting people and hear their views on the problems, solutions, and issues facing the residents of our community.

I got to meet other interesting people who shared with me the thing which makes this nation great. What is that you ask? Political Discourse. We may not always agree with each others views. That is not required. However, we should always listen with an open mind, and be willing to consider what others have to say. A closed mind is a small mind, remember that.

Bill Larson
Bill Larson
Bill Larson is  is politically and socially active in the community. Bill is a member of the Friends of Dunbar Cave. You can reach him via telephone at 931-249-0043 or via the email address below.

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