“If you want to have a better life, if you want your kids to have a bright future, if you want to have a more equal society, you have to treasure your right to vote and take action,” says Milli Lau, a student in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Odyssey Project.
Lau’s passionate defense of voting appears in the Capital Times, along with those of other Odyssey Project students. They wrote their essays in conjunction with Odyssey’s “A Celebration of Voting,” an Oct. 8 event at the Urban League Community Room, 2222 S. Park St., 2-4 p.m. To demystify the process for community members, it will include information on where and how to vote, along with refreshments, guest speakers, door prizes, and activities for children. Volunteers from the League of Women Voters will register attendees on the spot, and winners of the “Why Vote?” essay contest will read their work.
“I vote because I don’t take the freedom to do so for granted,” writes Billie Kelsey. “I vote even when I think that my one vote couldn’t possibly matter because I secretly hope that it will.”
‘Change starts with one vote!’
Each year, the Odyssey Project offers a free two-semester humanities class for 30 adults, providing textbooks, childcare, and a weekly dinner. They earn six credits in English from UW-Madison, as well as gain critical thinking skills and a sense of empowerment. Many go on to complete a college degree and find meaningful work in the community.
The Odyssey class emphasizes civic engagement, with readings from Socrates, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Students make connections between historic civil rights struggles and their own lives, so it’s no surprise that their “Why Vote” essays reflect a commitment to democratic ideals.
“Change starts with one vote!” writes Jelissa Edwards. “Be that vote and bring hope to a nation that is depending on you to keep it safe and moving in the right direction. There have been both men and women that have suffered to give you that right. The strength of this country starts with one vote. Why not let it be yours?”