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From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: Florida Voting Rights Activist Desmond Meade Is a Genius


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Photo courtesy John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation


Orlando is home to genius.

Maybe you already knew that. Maybe you don’t think it requires external validation. But it’s always good to hear it acknowledged in the wider world.

This week the MacArthur Foundation announced their 2021 fellowship awards, and Orlando voting rights activist Desmond Meade is on the list.

Meade has worked for years to help restore voting rights to the more than 1.4 million Floridians with felony convictions. Before voters passed Amendment 4, which does just that, Florida was one of only three states that permanently barred those with felony convictions from voting. His Florida Rights Restoration Coalition is now dedicated to removing barriers to employment, housing and voting for people with criminal backgrounds.

The MacArthur Fellowship is sometimes called the “genius grant.” Fellows receive $625,000 over a five-year period, with no strings attached. The award is recognition of “exceptional creativity”; the stipend is an “investment in their potential.”

While that recognition of creativity has meant in the past that grantees skewed toward artists, almost every member of this year’s class works for social justice, through whatever medium.

As the foundation’s Cecilia Conrad says, they help us “reimagine what’s possible. They demonstrate that creativity has no boundaries.”

More at OrlandoWeekly.com.


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