ARGYLE — “People have died and fought wars to get the right to vote,” Flower Mound lawyer Cameron Cox told a group of Argyle Intermediate School fifth- and sixth-graders Wednesday.
“It’s an important right, and it’s a right that each and every one of you should exercise when you become 18. And for every year that you have a chance to vote, vote,” he told students.
Cox, a 1994 Argyle Middle School alumnus, was invited to speak with students Wednesday about the importance of voting and citizen responsibility.
The presentation was the school’s start to Celebrate Freedom Week, recognizing the sacrifices made for freedom in the United States and the values the country was founded on, school officials said.
The young lawyer encouraged students to not only vote in presidential elections but also in local elections.
On Saturday, voters in the Argyle school district will cast their ballots in a special election for or against a 6 cent tax rate increase for the district’s operating budget.
School officials earlier this month decreased the debt service tax rate by 4 cents but need voter approval to increase the rate that supports day-to-day district operations.
“Vote,” Cox said to students. “Vote often and vote for everything that you have a passion for, whether it’s the schools, city council, school board, presidential elections, statewide elections, countywide elections, and just don’t vote to vote. Be educated. Research.
“Who are the candidates? What do they stand for?”
A portion of Cox’s presentation included a 25-minute video titled Vote America! The video, created by the Texas Young Lawyers Association, shared the stories of minorities and women in their fights for equal voting rights.
Cox is chairman-elect of that association.
The video chronicles the civil rights era, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the U.S. Constitution’s 15th, 19th and 26th amendments.
Images depicted in the video included Americans participating in marches during the civil rights era, demonstrations during the women’s suffrage movement and people being turned away at the polls.
The video also touched on voting restrictions such as poll taxes, literacy tests and the drawing of boundaries to dilute the Mexican-American vote.
Also presented were women participating in hunger strikes for the right to vote, and the murders of James Earl Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman — three voter registration volunteers killed in Mississippi in 1964.
“This was an excellent history lesson,” said Lisa Hartman, Argyle Intermediate principal.
With general elections less than two months away, the remembrance of Sept. 11 on Tuesday and Celebrate Freedom Week being recognized statewide next week, Cox’s presentation was on time, she said.
Sixth-grader Mason Roach said he felt the presentation examined the voting rights of people and the unfairness of voting throughout American history.
Madison Mills, another sixth-grader, said it taught American history. The presentation also taught lessons about how the efforts of others effected change and the importance of getting to know candidates, she said.
By showing students the images of people who struggled and died for the right to vote, Cox said it’s his hope that when they’re of age to vote, they’ll understand the importance of their vote.
“In today’s landscape, where people are trying to pass laws to restrict voter access, it’s important for kids to see the century-old struggle that’s taken place to essentially make voting less restrictive so everyone has an open, equal and fair voice at the polls,” he said. “When these kids turn 18, hopefully they’ll have the desire to exercise their right to vote.”
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .