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Desmond Meade: Creating a More Inclusive Democracy


At one point in his life Desmond Meade didn’t know when he’d eat his next meal. Now he is a graduate of Florida International University College of Law and just led a victorious campaign to restore the right to vote to returning citizens in Florida as the President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC).

“As a Christian I’m reminded of Jesus on the cross and there was a criminal that asked to be saved and Jesus didn’t tell him he had to wait 5 to 7 years,” Meade explained. What Jesus said was ‘On this day you shall enter paradise’ and that interchange between Jesus and the person who commited the crime, really speaks to what is at the heart of our faith.”

Formerly homeless, Meade sheds light on how those were some of the darkest days, affecting relationships and fueling his addictions. “People closer to the pain need to be heard and they should be a part of that solution process,” Meade said.

While serving a 15-year prison sentence for a drug offense in Florida, Meade got a break when the appeals court returned his conviction to the original trial bench, allowing him to plead guilty to a lesser charge and get out of prison in three years. At the time he struggled to accept the consequences and quickly realized that his rights were gone.
Now at 50 years of age, Meade can finally register to vote again. On November 6th, more than a million convicted felons in Florida won their voting rights back, including Desmond Meade.

The activist knew in his heart that Amendment 4 would pass. “For everything that has shown us leading up to this that people from all walks of life supported this,” Meade said. At the heart of it, it’s about making our community safer.”

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