The following is a photo essay I’ll be gradually updating throughout the day. It’s a chronological documentation of my experience shadowing some of the volunteers, candidates and voters involved in yesterday’s election. This is part I.
3:00 pm –
I met with Virgil Crawford and his mounted bullhorn on St. Charles Road, where I’d just chatted with a group of men and women passing out palm cards for the Maywood United and Mary ‘May’ Larry campaigns. “How much are you guys getting?” I asked. One told me that they’d been posted outside since at least 7 am. “From 7 am to 7 pm. Twelve hours.” For which they would receive $70.
When I hopped on the passenger side of Crawford’s vehicle, I had to shove a stash of campaign literature aside. This car has served as Crawford’s mobile headquarters since the campaign began. As we coursed through the Village, Crawford’s magnified baritone echoed off of empty side streets and ghosted homes with plywood facades. “Hands that once picked cotton can now pick elections! We can turn Maywood around! Vote for vision! Vote for new leadership with a plan of action! You can decide the future of Maywood! Punch 15 for Edwenna Perkins! Punch 25 for Cheryl Ealey-Cross!”
We turned down 6th and Washington. Crawford slowed for a group of young men, about five deep, standing in front of a home on the corner. “You brothers going to vote today?” Crawford asked through the speakers. Several said that they weren’t old enough. One was walking toward a white car that idled behind us. Another, apparently the oldest, said that he didn’t live here. And then a voice whose owner I couldn’t distinguish: “You want to know the reason I don’t vote? I don’t even like Maywood!” Crawford rode off slowly, catching the dust of the car that had impatiently sped up to overtake us, the sound of tire skids and a loud, thumping bass trailing in its wake.
“So many have fought and died for us to have the right to vote!” A block away from the young men on the corner, Crawford saw an older black man sitting on a porch, shoulders stooped, head bowed – he was either asleep or deep in contemplation. “You voted?” “You gonna vote?” “Do you vote?” The man shook his head in the negative to all three questions before Crawford drove slowly off and into the direction of a woman who was standing in the middle of the street with her arms flailed before reaching out to give us two thumbs up. “That’s been all day,” Crawford said of the woman’s enthusiasm, despite the lethargy we’d just witnessed in the men.