Most of the world knows we're in the midst of a very consequential election. Against twin pandemics of illness and racism, deep economic insecurity, and a president whose relentless fearmongering has reached fever pitch, the ability to vote has never been more important.
Desmond Meade's Let My People Vote: My Battle to Restore the Civil Rights of Returning Citizens is a compelling story about one man's rise from addiction, homelessness, and prison to run a successful campaign to re-enfranchise more than one million Florida voters.
Meade had been toiling for years when he "burst" onto the national scene in 2018. In that year's election, more than 60 percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 4, a ballot initiative to restore voting rights to returning citizens (returning to society from prison).
Unfortunately, the story does not end there. But the man and the campaign offer inspiring examples of hope, persistence, and the power of organizing.
Meade recounts a challenging personal history in Let My People Vote. After completing high school, he entered the army. His life went dramatically downhill following his service. He struggled with drug addiction and became homeless. He racked up convictions—arrested for shoplifting, drug possession, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Finally, he ended up in the wrong place (a house where he was squatting) at the wrong time, and was charged with illegal possession of a firearm.