Woman on a mission to get voters to the polls

Published: Oct. 3, 2014 at 3:17 PM EDT|Updated: May. 12, 2016 at 1:21 PM EDT
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Sherie Labedis (Source: WIS)
Sherie Labedis (Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Sherie Labedis put her life on the line for voting rights in the Palmetto State.

"I step out onto the sidewalk, thinking they're going to really be excited," she said. "This black young man steps in front of me and says 'you came here to die, didn't you? Cause if you didn't you best get back in your car and go back to Chicago or New York, or wherever you came from."

In 1965, Lebedis when she traveled across the country to South Carolina.

Her goal was to register as many African Americans to vote as she could.

"People would say I don't dare!" Lebedis said. "If I do, my husband will lose his job."

Lebedis said she spent time in Charleston and Pineville, going door to door. She was met with unlivable poverty.

"There were flies. It was dirty," she said. "The people looked tired and rundown and hopeless. Somebody yelled 'get down!' and I went down on my face in the parking lot and the bullets went over my head."

Lebedis said she wrote all the details out in a book which she decided to publish because one of her students said it was their right not to vote.

"The people have to play the game too," she said. "The Constitution gives us rights-but we forget along with those rights, we have responsibilities."

Lebedis and thousands of others risked everything to give everyone the right to vote.

She said if we don't vote, the problems we face won't get fixed.

Lebedis worked as a teacher for decades after her trip to South Carolina and she encouraged her students to register to vote.

The voting registration deadline for the November election is Saturday.

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