In a long-overdue (and, frankly, yet to be seen) declaration, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez recently acknowledged the importance of black women to newly elected Alabama Sen. Doug Jones’ victory.
“Let me be clear: We won in Alabama and Virginia because black women led us to victory,” Perez said. “Black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party, and we can’t take that for granted. Period.”
Among the women not be taken for granted is 59-year-old Perman Hardy, a former sharecropper and home health nurse who has made it her mission to ensure that her neighbors in majority-black Lowndes County vote in every election.
In a must-read profile, AL.com followed Hardy around Tuesday as she spent 10 hours shuttling more than 50 people to polling sites.
“That’s my goal is to make sure everyone votes. That’s always been my goal. This is what I do every election,” she said as she steered her forest-green Chevrolet Tahoe through Collirene, a rural area that was once home to several cotton plantations that employed generations of slaves and sharecroppers.
“We’re in an epidemic poverty county so it’s so important for us to vote today,” she told AL.com. “I took some people today who’ve never cast a ballot before.”
And for those she couldn’t personally drive to the polls, Hardy follows up. She calls up other residents in the county, which has about 10,458 people, to make sure they voted. She also visits the polling stations and checks for names of people she knows.
Leading up to Election Day, Hardy also signs up local students who attend out-of-state colleges for absentee ballots. And it’s no easy feat—as Al.com notes, she does this “using a portable scanner plugged into her Tahoe’s cigarette lighter socket, to scan their driver’s licenses and Social Security cards and submitting the forms on their behalf.”
“If you can’t reach down and pick somebody up, just don’t do anything at all,” Hardy said about her work. “But don’t ask me how I do it, don’t ask me how. It’s just what I do.”
Read more at Al.com.