Reasons to Amplify Free Minds: The Importance of Having a Voice

In this fall’s politics unit, Free Minds students were invited to tell their own stories of voting and citizenship. Here Juanita Andrade remembers the reverence with which her parents prepared themselves for the polls.

There is a day in my life that is so deeply etched in my mind that when I recall it, it is as if I am hovering over the house I grew up in. From my vantage point the house has no roof top. I see my mother busy inside getting herself ready. She is dressed in a gold colored fitted dress with narrow brown trim around the collar and armholes. She has on her brown alligator pumps and has tucked a handkerchief into her matching purse. With lipstick and rouge in place, she is ready.

I see my father driving up the road towards the house. He takes a rough turn onto our unpaved driveway. In his khaki Dickies, pants and matching shirt, he rushes into the house through the back door. My mother steps aside as he heads into the bathroom to take a shower. My mother waits silently until my father finally emerges, dressed in a suit and tie. He has on his black wing tip shoes that he had polished the night before.

Both ready, he and my mother leave to vote for their choice for the next president of the United States. The drive to the courthouse is short, and when they return home, my father changes back into his work clothes and leaves to complete his shift.

That was Election Day, November 5, 1968, and I was 11 years old.

My parents never talked to me about why they voted or whom they voted for, but this ritual of theirs imbued me with a sense of responsibility that I too had to take action as a U.S. citizen.

As the only active grandparent of two young boys, I feel an even stronger gravitation towards election polls these days. Like my parents, I am proud to be a U.S. citizen, but unlike my parents, I do not hesitate to openly discuss politics with my grandsons. And though I know we may not always agree, at the end of the day, love rules.

Amplify Austin is a city-wide day of online giving which will take place on from 7 pm March 4 to 7 pm March 5. Central Texas residents are invited to come together to raise $1 for the local non-profits that enrich our city–including Free Minds. To learn more about how you can support Free Minds through Amplify Austin, visit

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