What’s the hardest thing you have ever done in life? What do you name among your greatest accomplishments? How will you be remembered after you’re gone? To each of us, life has dealt a different set of circumstances that have shaped us to become who we are and have influenced our drive and passions. Although we each face differing circumstances, we share the ability to overcome obstacles and leave a worthwhile legacy.
This was, and continues to be, true for Desmond Meade, a graduate of Florida International University College of Law, the current executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), and an honoree for Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People for 2019. Desmond is also a former homeless person, a former drug addict, and a formerly incarcerated person. Through his efforts, Desmond helped pass Amendment 4 to Florida’s constitution in 2018, which restored voting rights to approximately 1.4 million Floridians who had previous felony convictions. Below, Desmond shares his thoughts on his law degree, leading a grassroots citizens’ initiative, FRRC’s work, and advice for young lawyers, men of color, and anyone who wants to make change.