‘Voting for my life’: La’Tonya Wiley

By Zachary Delaney

Nov. 3, 2020


La’Tonya Wiley sits at her computer in her office at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. Photo by Zachary Delaney

La’Tonya Wiley sits at her computer in her office at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. Photo by Zachary Delaney

The streets are quiet on election day in Greensboro, N.C., says La’Tonya Wiley. The special events coordinator was sitting in her office at the Civil Rights Museum, anxiously waiting as time runs out on the 2020 presidential election.  

“I didn’t rest well last night,” said Wiley. 

When asked what the election means to her, Wiley said she was “voting for my life.” Three weeks ago, she took advantage of early voting in North Carolina and punched her ballot for the Democratic Party.  

As voters in the United States made their way to the polls on the Election Day, Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden held a tentative lead over the incumbent President Donald Trump in key swing state North Carolina.  

In the past 12 elections, nine of the parties who won the electoral college votes in North Carolina went on to win the election, according to the election data website 270towin. While the state has favoured Republican candidates since the mid-1960s, voters in 2017 elected Democrat Roy Cooper as Governor of the state. 

Wiley, 45, works at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro. She voted for Joe Biden and his vice-presidential running mate Kamala Harris. 

With so much at stake, Wiley said public health issues motivate her vote for the Democrats. With roughly 230,000 Americans dead due to COVID-19, Biden has been vocal about creating a plan to curb the numbers and save lives. 

“I’m hoping they will enforce a national mandate for mask wearing,” said Wiley. 

She added that she has had several friends and family of friends get the virus but expressed gratitude that none had resulted in death. 

“[If] we just wore masks…we’d save 100,000 lives,” Biden said in a campaign speech in Durham, North Carolina on Oct. 18.  

Greensboro is a just one city in the larger Guilford County, which to date reported almost 12,000 cases of COVID-19 

Wiley also hopes to see social reform and social justice regarding human rights issues that contribute to institutional racism. 

For example, Wiley said she supports defunding the police, but she was quick to say that “that doesn’t mean simply strip the funding from the police.Rather, she said she wants to see funding redistributed so that officers aren’t expected to be therapists and counselors, too.  

Wiley would also like to see better training and screening for aspiring officers. Citing the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Wiley considers their deaths to be avoidable losses if better training and forms of accountability were in place. 

“I think it’s easier to become a police officer than it is to go work at your local quickie mart,” said Wiley. 

Wiley’s concerns for the election don’t just lie with public health and social justice, she is also looking for change that will affect the nation’s future voters in the education system. 

“I think [teachers] are the most underpaid profession there is, countrywide,” said Wiley. 

She said that schools in her state are lacking, with suffering occurring academically and structurally. Wiley would like to see a “responsible allocation of funding and staffing,” so the teachers can deliver an effective curriculum. 

When it comes to making an election outcome prediction, Wiley is hesitant to make one. 

“I think that the last election proved positive that anything truly can happen and I’m very much afraid that anything might happen, said Wiley of her expectations for the result.