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Unsung hero in the fight for voting rights: Maggie Bozeman

Posted at 6:43 AM, Oct 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-05 11:17:19-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — We bring you the story of Maggie Bozeman, a woman known as an unsung hero in the fight for voting and civil rights.

Bozeman was an elementary school teacher in Perkins County, AL; her daughter now residing in Tucson. She tells KGUN 9, Bozeman made it her life’s work to educate people of color on the importance of voting.

In 1979, Bozeman registered many to vote in preparation for a major general election, wanting to make sure people of color’s voices were heard.

“The local infrastructure began to investigate my mother and Ms. Julia Wilder. They said that they cast absentee ballots against the voter's knowledge. That was one count. They said that they voted more than once, that was another count. And mainly voter fraud. They arrested my mother at school in front of her students, and she was taken away to jail,” said Puntadeleste Bozeman Nickens, Bozeman’s daughter.

Bozeman and Wilder were later convicted and sentenced to four and five years of prison. However, with the backing of the NAACP and the National Education Association, they only served 15 days.

“There was a stipulation. She was not allowed to return back to our home county, nor she was allowed to vote. So they lost their right to vote, helping others. So they sacrificed their right they sacrifice the rights of others,” said Bozeman Nickens.

She says Bozeman testified in front of Senator Henry Hyde. Hyde later voted to extend the Voting Rights Act, changing his original vote, which was extended under the Reagan Administration.

“So my mother's hidden story played a major impact on voting rights. And because of during these times,” said Bozeman Nickens.

Bozeman Nickens was a senior in high school about to attend Howard University during this time, old enough to understand why and how her mother’s case was important.

“I marched on behalf of my mother's in injustice incarceration, I spoke in front of thousands of protesters in for the right to vote in my mother's situation. So my passion is not only because of her situation, which I experienced, but it's I understand what people have gone through in order to make it happen in order for the democratic right,” said Bozeman Nickens.

And that democratic right is what Bozeman Nickens said a lot of people take for granted. She felt compelled to tell her mother’s story again so people understand voting is a privilege, and to spread the importance of what people did for the right to vote.