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Desmond Meade
Most Creative People 2019

Desmond Meade

Executive director, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition | Orlando, FL

For clearing a path to the voting booth
Most Creative People

Desmond Meade is a criminal justice reform activist and advocate who is best known for the role he played in Florida voters’ 2018 decision to restore voting rights to 1.4 million ex-felons via a ballot initiative called Amendment 4. As president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, Meade spent most of the previous two years giving speeches, appearing on late-night talk shows, and helping to collect more than 760,000 signatures to get Amendment 4 in front of voters. A former Army pilot and himself an ex-felon, Meade secured a law degree from Florida International University in 2014, but state law would not allow him to sit for the bar exam. Instead, he put his legal literacy to use as the head of FRCC, where he secured the support of the ACLU and the Open Philanthropy Fund—founded by Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz—for Amendment 4. Despite the initiative’s passing, Meade and the FRCC will now be focusing their efforts on fighting the obstacles that Florida's Republican-led legislature is working to place between ex-felons and the voting booth, including a requirement that full restitution be paid before voting rights are restored. [Photo: Xavier McCleary]

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