My great-grandfather was a smooth-talker and a lady killer with his large frame, light brown eyes, and dark skin.
He lived poorly and barely finished high school. He went to the Air Force and was worldly, proud, funny, and hardworking. He also smoked incessantly. But Carl Edward Fields was more than just my crazy-acting, cigarette-smoking granddaddy--he was also a genius, a Nashville activist who called me on my 18th birthday to remind me of the importance of voting.
He told me that I'd better exercise my right to vote because too many people, especially black people, don't. He emphasized the importance of black votes and told me that it was my job to care about the issues. He told me that he and too many other people before him had died, fought, and struggled to gain this simple right and it should not be taken lightly.
He said, "If you don't vote, you can't complain. Everyone can make a difference."
And now after years and years of blacks not voting in Shreveport, they came out in record numbers to elect the city's first black mayor, Cedric B. Glover.
That's a big change for this city.
Nobody thought Glover would win because the ideology in Shreveport is that blacks don't vote, whites do vote, and blacks and whites only vote for skin color. Therefore Glover wouldn't win.
But he did. By over 4,000 votes. And blacks and whites voted together for who they thought was best to lead the city. According to voting precints, blacks came out in record numbers to vote when they hadn't before. An 88-year-old woman cast her vote Tuesday for the first time in her life.
My grandfather would be proud of Shreveport.