I’ve heard: “my vote doesn’t matter,” “the election is rigged,” and “I don’t have time.”  If votes were of no consequence, politicians wouldn’t spend millions vying for your vote.  If your vote had no value, there would be no history of people fighting for the right to do so against forces trying to deny that right to so many others.  

January 1965 – the Southern Christian Leadership Conference launched a voting rights campaign in Selma, Alabama. In Dallas County, Alabama, where African Americans made up slightly more than 50 percent of the population, less than 1 percent of eligible African American voters were registered to vote.  When attempting to register to vote, or organize others to vote, African Americans were harassed, assaulted, jailed, and even murdered.  

In that place, in that time, achieving the right to vote was a seemingly impossible feat.  Consistence, courage, and determination brought about change. People died for what too many Americans take for granted. Lives have literally been lost for a right guaranteed by the Constitution, the right to vote.  

In the midst of the campaign, on March 7, 1965, at roughly 9:30 p.m., ABC news broadcaster Frank Reynolds interrupted the premier of “Judgment at Nuremberg”— being watched by nearly 50 million Americans.  What followed was horrifying footage from Selma, Alabama.  This day would become known as Bloody Sunday.  

Hosea Williams, representing the Southern Christian Leadership Council, and John Lewis, a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee chairman (future U.S. congressman), had been leading nearly 600 voting rights advocates on what was to be a 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama to the state capital in Montgomery.

As demonstrators crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were met with state troopers wearing helmets and armed with guns, billy clubs, and tear gas.  The troopers were backed by sheriff’s deputies, some of them on horses.  What followed was peaceful marchers being charged and knocked to the ground, struck with clubs, and covered in tear gas. 

A march for the right to vote – free from Jim Crow laws – was met with brutal violence.

Voter suppression and discrimination is real and deeply rooted in American history.  Dating back to 1776, only white men that owned property were allowed to vote.  In 1870, the 15th Amendment extended the right to vote to African American men, but states responded with “grandfather clauses” and Jim Crow laws used to prevent them from voting. After more than 50 years, the women’s suffrage movement culminated in 1920 with the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.  It was not until 1924 that Native Americans were given the right to vote, after reprehensible, prior requirements that they disassociate from their tribes to gain the right. And, in 1965, the Voting Rights Act began officially ripping down the barriers that had long kept African American people from having a say in the government that governed them. 

If voting had no value, there would be no efforts to disenfranchise voters.

Voting is not only a right, but it is a privilege.  It is your opportunity to be heard and to vote for what you want America to become.

Election day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020.  Yet, you don’t have to wait.  Early voting is underway in Texas through Friday, October 30, 2020.  

When we vote, we are part of a collective effort.  When likeminded people vote for like-minded interests, that is when real change happens.

Know Your Interests. Vote Your Interests. Know the value of your vote.

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Photo of Kalandra N. Wheeler Kalandra N. Wheeler

We asked Kalandra N. Wheeler, a Trial Attorney in the Houston office of Wiley Wheeler, P.C., to provide her sincere answers to a range of questions.  After reading, you will be more more abreast with the understanding and competency that Ms. Wheeler

We asked Kalandra N. Wheeler, a Trial Attorney in the Houston office of Wiley Wheeler, P.C., to provide her sincere answers to a range of questions.  After reading, you will be more more abreast with the understanding and competency that Ms. Wheeler brings.

1.Why did you start practicing labor and employment law?

I wanted to be able to help people that otherwise might not find help. Labor and employment laws affect most of society.  And – whether our results help one or many – our work and efforts as employment lawyers touch people in a real way in their every day lives.

2. Who is your favorite Supreme Court Justice?

Thurgood Marshall.

3. What do you think is the most important part of a good case?

The client. Good facts and evidence are definitely important. But good clients are a lawyers’ most valuable asset.  A good client: (1) is invested in their case; (2) works or worked hard for their employer; (3) can tell their story clearly and concisely; and (4) is someone that a jury will find sympathetic and relatable.

4. If you could write a new law, what would it do?

The Texas Workplace Anti-Bullying law.  I hear the stories, the ones told by employees looking for help. And in far too many of those stories the law offers no solution.  Every employee that goes to work and works hard to do the job they are hired to perform should be able to do so without abuse, harassment, and bullying. There is no justification for bullying, not in our schools, and not in our workplaces.

5. Besides Rob Wiley, P.C., what is the most interesting job that you have had?

For a year before law school, I worked as a lube tech for Jiffy Lube.  I spent hot summer days, working on hot cars, changing oil or flushing transmissions or radiators.  I never had a customer come back with a complaint.

6. How do you market yourself differently than others?

I tell clients what they need to hear, not necessarily what they want to hear. Before a client begins down any path toward resolving an employment dispute, they need thoughtful, honest advice. I am a believer in justice and everyday people deserve competent representation in an arena that is difficult for non-lawyers to navigate.

7. What do you do when you’re not practicing law?

I spend time with family and friends.  I read true crime books.  I sew and draw.

8. How would you describe the color yellow to someone who could not see?

It’s not the intense heat of the sun during the month of August, but instead the softness of the sun on your skin just as the seasons change from Summer to Fall.  It’s warm. And soft to the touch.  It’s fresh squeezed lemonade with a hint of sugar.  Slightly cool, inviting, and happy.

9. What’s your favorite legal TV show?

Law & Order: SVU

10. If you could argue any case in history, what would it be?

The Karen Silkwood case. But really, I think that would be more about arguing and trying a case alongside Gerry Spence for the learning experience.

Kalandra N. Wheeler is a Trial Attorney in the Houston office of Wiley Wheeler, P.C.  She graduated from The University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in political science.  Ms. Wheeler went on and received her law degree from The University of Arkansas.