Poll worker Steve Berkeley chats with Florestine Evans, a retired science teacher from Memphis City Schools. (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)

The polls had not yet closed for the Aug. 6 elections when Brenda Brooks looked three months ahead.

Brenda Brooks (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)

“We’ve got to show up in November,” said Brooks, who arrived properly masked to cast her vote at the Norris Rd. Missionary Baptist Church precinct at about 5 p.m.

A grandmother, Brooks sees the needs that drove her to vote this past Thursday as the same ones that should be the drivers for casting ballots in November.

“I’m concerned about the leadership. I’m concerned about the virus, police reform, children and their education,” she said. “But most of all, I am concerned about what kind of world we are leaving our children and grandchildren. We have to make sure things are right for them.

“After all, what is more important than doing what it takes to make sure they will be OK? Beyond that, there is nothing else.”

Traffic was light and numbers were sparse for the Tennessee State and Federal Primary Elections and the Shelby County General Election, with most having chosen to vote absentee or early in person.

Election Day unfolded against the backdrop of an in-court legal battle over the push to widely expand the use of absentee voting amid the pandemic. Some proponents assert that the effort itself affected some outcomes by contributing hugely to the early-voter turnout and to those who cast absentee ballots.

Voting in person at The Truth Church precinct. (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)

At The Truth Church and other polling places in Shelby County, Election Day yielded debates, projections for the November races, and the interactions of long-time, community friends who’d not seen each other because of the pandemic.

Darius Fields (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)

“Lord have mercy, we can’t do another four years of this foolishness,” said Darius Fields. “Hey, can I just go ahead and do early voting for president?”

A poll worker within earshot volunteered a response: “You don’t even know who Joe Biden’s running mate is yet.”

“I don’t care who it is,” Fields replied. “He can pick Jerry Lawler, and they can give out gator packs, for all I care. Whoever he picks, I just might as well vote for him today and get it over with.”

Kavious Bowden (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)

Kavious Bowden, 16, was the only campaign worker in front of The Truth Church handing out pre-printed ballots for various candidates. He got involved in politics three weeks ago.

“I wanted to get involved and to help because I want to see things change, get better,” said Bowden, noting that he’d soon be picking up a Shelby County Schools computer device soon for all-virtual classes this fall.

“I’m going to college and I want to get my masters in business so I can own a successful business. Everybody should get out and vote.”

Dwight Walker (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)

Dwight Walker said he voted because, “I really want to see change…. “The country cannot continue going like it is with so many people dying every day from the virus.

“It’s our national representation. The leadership at the top is our biggest problem.”

Setting a context for the need for people to be informed about the issues of the day, Chavez Donelson, owner of Ambassador Embassy barbershop at Ketchum Rd. and Airways Blvd., had a lot to say about the “troubling times we are seeing now.”

ChavezDonelson (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)

“I get a lot of young people in my shop, and I think technology is ruining us. They’ve got that iPhone and it’s so easy to mislead people. These young guys don’t read; they don’t know how to write cursive. Even little children know how to work these phones.”

Donelson said he was disheartened to hear that “Republicans were putting Kanye West on the ballot of swing states so they can try and split the black vote….

“Everything is a circus,” he said. “The sad thing is you’ll get some people voting for him. All his wife has to do is come out half-dressed, and some of these young people will vote for him. That’s so crazy.”

Arthur Banks and Burnell Banks volunteered to help elderly voters. (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell)

Norris Avenue Church members Arthur Banks, a deacon, and Burnell Banks, an usher, assisted elderly voters with mobility issues and helped poll workers with various tasks.

Pandemic and all, Florestine Evans, a 70-something-year-old Memphis City Schools retiree, came out to do what she always does – vote.

“Everybody is giving their opinion,” she said, “and I figure I might as well put my two cents in.”