Sixty-six years ago, 30-year-old mother-to-be Elease Morgan was so inspired by the courage and determination of civil rights marchers in Jackson that she knew she wanted to get involved somehow. Since she was pregnant she couldn’t join them in their miles-long march from Tougaloo College to the state Capitol, so instead she dropped her son off with a priest she knew at nearby Lake Hico. That priest hoisted her son onto his shoulders and they joined the procession of marchers making the trek to show solidarity in wanting the right to vote.

“I knew then I was going to vote. I had to,” said Morgan, 96, of Jackson.

Today Morgan is all smiles while sharing how she has already cast her vote by mail.

“Back then, it wasn’t so easy. And yes, I was nervous because we didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know if someone would try and stop us or try and do something to us. But I was proud too. The excitement of it made me tingle on the inside. Four to five of us went together back then,” Morgan said. “It was friends and neighbors. Safety in numbers, you know.”

“Young people today, they don’t know. They don’t. It’s something nowadays they take for granted because everything is so easy. But let me tell you, back in the day, it was hard. And it could be dangerous, even deadly,” Morgan continued. “I’d feel so much better if there was a better appreciation of the sacrifices made to make voting, for us anyway, easy. The journey has been long and hard fought. But we’re making it. I hope I’m an inspiration for these young people. The way those marchers were for me. Get out and vote. A lot of people made sacrifices for us to be able to have a voice in the world. Don’t waste the opportunity and don’t take it for granted.”