Joe Madison Reflects on Voting Rights Hunger Strike

By Joe Madison
Talk Host


NEW YORK — I woke up this morning to the unfortunate news that the United States Senate had failed to protect the voting rights of all Americans. They had also failed to change the Senate filibuster rules.

And so I wake up at 1:00 in the morning and there’s the news. And I realized I had to decide. Do I continue the hunger strike, or do I end the hunger strike? And I made a note to myself that I will be ending the hunger strike. So let me say that. That’s the announcement. I am ending the hunger strike as of today.

And people will ask, was the 70 plus days of my hunger strike worth the effort? The answer is yes.

Today, an entire generation now knows more about the Senate filibuster. They now know more about how important their vote or their votes are. They now know the major differences between Republicans and Democrats. They now know that our democracy is fragile. They also now know that just as food is essential to maintaining life, the right to vote is essential to maintaining our democracy.

In the words of Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he wrote in his diary ‘I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.’ What the Republicans in the Senate, in state legislative houses have done is awaken a new generation of activists and advocates. And that generation now knows and is prepared to continue this struggle, to continue this struggle to protect our voting rights.

A hunger strike is a nonviolent protest that is both political and moral. It states to those in power that an individual is willing to sacrifice their life, their health, for calls bigger than themselves. When I began this hunger strike on November 8th, 74 days ago, I had participated in rallies, arrests, marches, demonstrations that were needed, necessary to protect our votes. But I remembered the words — and those were moments, those were moments. But I remember the words of the late professor, Ron Walters, former chairman of the political science department of Howard University, who once stated that the difference between a moment and a movement was sacrifice. All movements require sacrifice. And that’s when I decided that this was a movement and that it’s going to require a sacrifice by all of us.

The mantra of my show has always been after all the talking is done, each individual has to ask themselves the question: what are you going to do about it? Because everybody can do something.

So I say to the Republicans in the Senate, where all of them, every one of them voted against protecting our right to vote, refused to even temporarily change Senate rules, that you are now the party, and it will be written in history, you are now the party of voter suppressionists. And let me put it this way: I predict that you’re going lose more than you gained. You have gained a temporary victory. I predict that Senator Sinema will not be reelected. That Senator Joe Manchin cannot be trusted. That Tim Scott is a traitor to his race. And as I said earlier, that Republicans are now the political party of voter suppressionists.

You have now awakened a sleeping giant. You’ve awakened a younger and a new generation of advocates and activists that are now resolved to fight this battle. And I say to the Democratic party, I say to Independents, now is the time to regroup, organize door to door, and on the grassroots level. We didn’t get the votes in the Senate, but we have awakened the minds, the hearts, and the consciousness of a new generation.

Joe Madison hosts the morning drive show on SiriusXM’s Urban View Channel.