One Vote, One Person Does Matter

Sean Rayford for The New York Times

Were it not for Jannie Jones, it is possible that Joe Biden might not be President-Elect today. Who is Jannie Jones, you ask? She is not a pundit. She is not a powerful political operative. Jannie Jones is a 76-year-old church usher whose grandmother came to America aboard a slave ship.

To understand Ms. Jones’ role in elevating Biden to the White House, we must go back to the South Carolina primary election last February 29th. About a week before that vote, Jannie Jones attended a funeral in the small town of Hopkins, South Carolina, population 2,956, about 13 miles southeast of Columbia, the state capitol.

Democratic South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, the House Majority Whip, also attend the funeral. As Ms. Jones tells the New York Times, “He didn’t know me from Adam’s house cat.” No matter. Seeing the Congressman leaning against a wall of the chuch, she got his attention. He walked over to the pew where she was sitting.

Clyburn remembers Jannie whispered in his ear, “I need to know who you are voting for.” This was no idle question, for at the time, Joe Biden’s candidacy was in serious doubt. In his acceptance speech, the President-Elect even said it was a time when his campaign “was at its lowest ebb.”

The Congressman, up until then, had made no public endorsement for Biden, nor any Democratic candidate. But he remembers whispering back to the woman he was voting for Joe Biden. As Clyburn recalls, Jennie Jones looked him and said, “I needed to hear that. And this country needs to hear that.”

That is when the Majority Whip, the third ranking Democrat in the United States House of Representatives, decided he did need to speak out. Five days later, he gave Biden a ringing public endorsment. Many credit Clyburn’s support for reviving the former Vice-President’s campaign, resulting in a South Carolina victory. The Times called the endorsement “seismic.” Biden’s primary win in the Palmetto State set up a cascade of political dominoes which fell, one after another, until this weekend, when Joe Biden was declared the next President of the United States.

He acknowledged as much in his acceptance speech. Speaking of that campaign’s lowest ebb, Biden said “The African American community stood up again for me. They always have my back, and I’ll have yours.”

So, don’t let anyone tell you one person, one vote, doesn’t matter. You don’t have to believe me. Just ask Jannie Jones.

Published by J. Paul Hickey

Author, Bass Player, Retired National Correspondent for ABC News - 32 years with the network - Retired in 2012. Narrates Audiobooks. Volunteer at Fort Sumter National Park. Holder of two university Honorary Doctorate Degrees, Distinguished Eagle Scout, former SCUBA diver.

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