This is what real change looks like!
LeBron James announced a new initiative to help restore voting rights for former felons in Florida, Black Enterprise reports.
The “More Than A Vote” initiative was created by James along with several other professional athletes and celebrities including Kevin Hart, Jalen Rose, Draymond Green, Udonis Haslem and Alvin Kamara. The initial goal is to raise $100,000 to help secure voting rights for former felons in Florida. The group has since partnered with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) to help make this happen.
The fund will provide financial assistance to former felons in Florida in service of outstanding fees and fines levied against them as a result of their felony convictions. In 2018, Florida restored voting rights to formerly convicted felons, simultaneously instituting a new law that would require them to pay fines and fees before they can register to vote (sound fishy?). The fund will be used to pay those fines so that there is no monetary barrier that would prevent them from being eligible to vote.
Haslem spoke about why it was important to him to get behind such a cause, saying, “We believe that your right to vote shouldn’t depend upon whether or not you can pay to exercise it, which is why ‘More Than A Vote’ is proud to partner with the FRRC to ensure that formerly incarcerated American citizens – many of them Black and brown – are able to pay their outstanding fines and fees and register to vote in the 2020 election and beyond.”
To kick off the initiative, “More Than A Vote” has partnered with Magnolia Pictures and Participant to host a virtual screening of John Lewis: Good Trouble, a documentary highlighting the life of the late civil rights icon John Lewis. Proceeds from the screening will be used for the fund.
“This partnership will improve lives and strengthen our democracy. FRRC is thrilled to partner with ‘More Than A Vote’ to help Florida’s returning citizens pay off their fines and fees, complete their sentence and move forward with their lives. We look forward to the positive impact it will have on our communities and the lives of those who are hoping to vote and have their voices heard,” said Desmond Meade, executive director of the FRRC.
James spoke to The New York Times about his inspiration behind this new endeavor, saying, “I’m inspired by the likes of Muhammad Ali, I’m inspired by the Bill Russells and the Kareem Abdul-Jabbars, the Oscar Robertsons – those guys who stood when the times were even way worse than they are today. Because of everything that’s going on, people are finally starting to listen to us – we feel we’re finally getting a foot in the door….this is the time for us to finally make a difference.”
According to ‘More Than A Vote,’ there are 1.4 million Florida residents with past felony convictions who could benefit from this fund.
The right to vote should not come with a price tag. #MoreThanAVote @morethanavote is stepping up to help @FLRightsRestore’s efforts to pay these fines and restore our democracy: https://t.co/48p39iS1fA pic.twitter.com/mbhoLeVgiiadvertisement
— More Than A Vote (@morethanavote) July 24, 2020
Thank you for all you’re doing LeBron!
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Chiu/Associated Press