Rachelle Horowitz was the transportation director of the l963 March on Washington. She was arrested protesting lunch counter discrimination on Route 40, Maryland, protesting Soviet Nuclear Testing at the Russian Embassy in New York City, protesting anti-labor and discriminatory policies at the World’s Fair in Queens, New York, protesting Apartheid at the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C. She was the Administrative Director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute and Political Director of the American Federation of Teachers. She sits on the board of the National Democratic Institute.

Thinking about a protest vote?

An open letter from an old protest voter to new ones

Dear Protest Voter,

I was once you.

In l960 when John F. Kennedy ran against Richard Nixon, I was 21. I was about to cast my first vote for President of the United States.

In my heart, I knew John F Kennedy was a far better choice to lead our country than Richard Nixon. I was a civil rights activist, a democratic socialist, a protester and JFK was not radical or even liberal enough for me. So I wrote in Norman Thomas.

After voting I helped organize a protest march and rally for civil rights in New York City. We were demanding an end to segregation and discrimination. The speaker was a southern hero, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. He had risked his life – literally – that morning by voting in Birmingham, Alabama, and had then flown to New York to speak at our rally.

We chatted a little as he waited to speak, and he casually mentioned how happy he was to have voted for JFK. I confessed my Norman Thomas write-in. He was incredulous and horrified. I felt like a silly, white, northerner who had the luxury to protest while his life and the fate of the nation was at stake.

I knew then that I would never waste another vote. I would protest; I would march; I would let my opinion be known. But when there were lives at stake, I would not demand political purity or total agreement with what I thought was right.

Sadly, I didn’t get a second chance to vote for JFK. Years later, I became active in Ted Kennedy’s 1980 campaign. My husband and I became his friends. Yet, I never had the courage to tell him about l960.

Well, its 56 years later. I don’t think Hillary is perfect.

But I do think she is plenty good enough… And I hope you don’t waste your vote.

I wrote in Norman Thomas in NYC – JFK won without me…

But in this election if you live in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and a bunch of swing states, your vote may do more than weigh on your conscience. It may plunge this country into a Trumpian nightmare.

So get out there and protest, march, rally and lead this country in the right direction. But, please, make your vote count. You can’t afford not to.

Rachelle Horowitz