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Hazel Ingram, a 93-year-old elder black woman who cleans offices for a living, being chosen to cast one of the 29 Electoral College votes for New York is the silver lining to come out of today’s depressing voting outcome confirming Donald Trump as president.

The expected has happened.

All the signs trickling out of today’s news reports pointed to the Electoral College sealing the deal for Donald Trump to become the 45th president — and 44th white president — of the United States. Now, it’s official.

However, there is an effervescent silver lining to come out of all this doom and gloom.

Her name is Hazel Ingram and the story of her journey from office cleaner to electoral college voter, at 93-years-old, is as muscular as it is stirring.

Raised on a family farm in the deep south at the sunrise of Jim Crow, Ingram recalls eagerly listening to the stories her grandmother — a former slave who lived to be 108 — would tell about her experiences growing up as chattel and the fundamental rights denied to black people, especially the vote. She would never forget those lessons.

Ingram was born in 1923, three years after white women got the vote. At 20, she moved to New York and took jobs that weren’t “too easy.” She has spent a lifetime — 60 years to be exact — cleaning at a Manhattan cleaning company, a job she’s been doing since early adulthood and one she enjoys. In addition to cleaning offices, she also took weekend jobs cleaning houses.

She joined a union in the 1950s, as the civil rights movement picked up steam. She married, had six children who, in turn, had children.

When able, she feverishly pursued her interest in voting rights, casting a ballot in every election since learning how to register. She campaigned for John F. Kennedy, Shirley Chisholm and Barack Obama. She called Hillary Clinton “prepared” and vowed to support her.

No doubt Ingram’s long-standing commitment to electoral politics factored into the decision of her union, Local 32BJ, in partnership with the Worker Families Party, to choose her to cast one of the 29 Electoral College votes for New York.

Which she did, today, in between a hectic schedule that included catching public transportation. Hazel Ingram gave her electoral vote to former Secretary of State and state senator Hillary Clinton, even though the odds of her winning were slim to none.

Clinton didn’t win. Trump will be America’s next president. However, it’s stories like this, about the quiet resiliency of black woman, an elder, committed to a life of political participation for the long hall, that give us reason to believe that we have tools to survive and, when possible, thrive, in the next four years.

Salute to you, Ms. Ingram.

h/t New York Times


Antwan is an educator, cultural critic, actor, and writer for Wear Your Voice Mag (WYV), where he focuses on the dynamics of class, race, gender, politics, and pop culture. Prior to joining the team at WYV, he was an adjunct professor in the African American Studies Department at Valdosta State University in southern Georgia, where he taught African American Literature. He has traveled the U.S. and U.K. showcasing a fifty-five minute, one-person play titled Whitewash, which focuses on the state of black men in the post-civil rights era. Antwan received his B.A. in English and Literature from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and M.A. in African American Studies from University of California, Los Angeles. He is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and NAACP theater nominee.

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