The Chains Are Breaking — What Will You Do?

Georgia sits at the crossroads of perhaps one of the most pivotal moments in our nation’s history. This election year has been historic, in part because of Georgia, and SACE's President of the Board of Directors E. Leon Jacobs, Jr. explains why Georgia's runoff elections demand everyone's attention.

Leon Jacobs | December 3, 2020 | Elections, Energy Justice, Georgia

Georgia holds a special place in my heart. My mother and father were born and raised in south Georgia, and they each loved this state: the memories, the family ties, and the legacy. They brought our family here often and I learned to love the backroads, and the red clay hills and valleys.

SACE Board President, E. Leon Jacobs, Jr., as an infant pictured with his mother, Vetta, at the family farm in rural south Georgia.

But Georgia also represents an enigma: a tense internal conflict. The history of racial segregation, inequity, discrimination, and even terrorism, while removed in time, remains fresh and clear for some. I personally witnessed it firsthand, and heard even more chilling stories from my family who were permanent residents. My grandfather, my father’s father, pictured below on the left was a sharecropper. His son, my uncle, was a victim of intense economic and personal oppression like many African American farmers or business owners in rural South Georgia. My father was one of the wisest men I have known, but neither he nor any of his brothers pictured below on the right finished high school because they were bound by the demands of the farm.   

Leon’s grandfather, Artester “Tess” Jacobs (left), Leon’s father’s brother’s (right)

But the essential legacy of Georgia is the heroism lived out by African American and white citizens of this great state, determined to defeat the evils of racism. So many heroes living today, or families of heroes who have passed on, bear witness to lives lived not as victims, but as conquerors. I am so proud that I am a part of two families with such heroes.  They lived lives to break barriers and unlock chains. Their legacy lives on today, and remains powerful even in the face of recent racial tensions. Their legacy is a driving force now at this pivotal moment in the history of these United States of America.

SACE Board President, E. Leon Jacobs, Jr. (back left) pictured with civil rights leaders Dr. Gerald Durley (back center) and the late Congressman John Lewis (front center) in Washington, D.C. in 2010 along with SACE staff and volunteers.

Georgia sits at the crossroads of perhaps one of the most pivotal moments in our nation’s history. This election year has been historic in part because of Georgia, and this runoff election demands everyone’s attention because the balance of the U.S. Senate is at stake. While your presence in the voting booth is crucial, reasons to engage in these runoff elections extend far beyond that booth. Our heroes fought to overcome systemic discrimination in basic elements of life such as housing, jobs, and education, as well as crucial economic tools in farm loans, crop subsidies, and business assistance. I was devastated to learn that my grandmother’s brother, my great uncle, was victimized by a crop loan system perpetrated by the federal government. Our heroes broke many of these chains; now you must affirm and uphold their victory with your vote. Today we must raise our voices on issues they never even knew, such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

You have this moment to affirm the legacy of the heroes of this great state. To break free of the chains that bound us for so long, no matter what anyone might think or say today.  Your actions can remove the vestiges of the past and chart the course for the future; a future that realizes the promise of the statement that all men and women are created equal.  

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Leon Jacobs
E. Leon Jacobs, Jr. is SACE’s President of the Board of Directors. He is the owner of The Law Office of Ennis Leon Jacobs, Jr. and past Chairman of the…
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