PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) is an organization run by formerly convicted people. Their goal is to get other returning citizens back into the community and end discrimination against anyone with past records.
For the next 10 days the FRRC will be going around Florida to support returning citizens and embracing their right to vote. They kicked it off in Pensacola.
Executive Director, of FRRC Desmond Meade says, “We are a statewide organization that advocate for people that have former convictions and help promote a more comprehensive and lasting re-entry into society.”
Meade was formerly homeless and is returning citizen and he’s now turned his life around. However, he knows just how difficult it can be to start over especially when it comes to voting.
“I think at the end of the day there is no better messenger to talk about voting,” says Meade. “And how exciting it should be and honor this right we have to vote and actually go out to vote than those who have lost their right to vote and fought long and hard to get it back.”
Meade says this election is his first time voting in 30 years and his top priority is to focus on the people that have been shut out. And that’s why he’s apart of this organization’s bus tour.
Deputy Director for FFRC Neil Volz says, “This bus tour is a 10 day celebration of voting and democracy and allowing people’s voices to be heard. We have fought long and hard to be able to get our voices back and participate in the community so we are going across the state and talking to people to fellow returning citizens and their families and reminding people what a sacred space this is.”
The organization says because of Florida Amendment Four, now everyone can vote no matter how big or small their past crime was, which has caused a lot of excitement.
“They have been yearning for a moment like this, to be apart of society and feel like what it is to be an American citizen because voting is the greatest indicator of being an American citizen. So we are celebrating that right along with them. We are asking family and friends to come celebrate as we participate in our elections,” says Meade.
While there are still challenges to be faced, FRRC is just glad they can meet one on one with people to let them know this is their time to be heard.
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