Retired Jacksonville bishop reflects on 71 years of voting: ‘I see the great possibilities’

Rudolph McKissick Sr. says voting should be a priority for all who are eligible

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Bishop Rudolph McKissick Sr. isn’t new to voting. He cast his first ballot in 1949 at the age of 22.

He said back then, not all African Americans in the United States were granted the right to vote, so he voted because his father couldn’t.

“What a joy it is or was to begin having that privilege to vote. And when all of us, as people, would have that mentality of voting because we could vote, it did make a difference,” McKissick said.

Now, 71 years later, the 93-year-old pastor emeritus at Bethel Baptist Institutional Church said voting is a top priority.

“I see the great possibilities we have now. We’re more equipped now to help one another than we’ve ever been in our lifetime because we have more, we know more, we are more,” McKissick said. “We’re a great people, and if we made it through -- if our fore-parents made it through the slavery, the dying, segregation -- we can make it through this. But remember, the one thing they did, they worked together for one another and not against one another.”

He said while times may be challenging, it is important that young voters understand their power.

“They can make a great difference now because it has been proven that a president has come out from us,” McKissick said. “It would be a travesty if they didn’t keep in mind that when I’m 18, I can vote, and my vote will make the difference in our future.”

McKissick said whether you’re young or old, voting should be a priority for all who are eligible.

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