For Desmond Meade, the right to vote is not simply a bedrock of American democracy. It is a personal struggle. He knows what it’s like to lose that right and he has spent the past fifteen years working to help formerly incarcerated people in Florida fight to regain it.
Meade, the executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), will be honored for his work as a democracy advocate with the McCourtney Institute for Democracy’s 2021 Brown Democracy Medal. Under his leadership, the FRRC launched Amendment 4, a ballot initiative that asked Florida residents whether voting rights should automatically be restored for people with prior felony convictions. The measure passed in November 2018 with support from 65 percent of the state’s voters.
Meade is a 2021 MacArthur Fellow, a recipient of the organization’s prestigious “genius grant.”