Orlando advocacy group nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

The coalition successfully ran an initiative in 2018 which restored voting rights to over a million non-violent felons in Florida.

The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition has earned a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for launching a campaign to restore voting rights to felons in the state, the Orlando Sentinel reports. 

The coalition successfully ran an initiative in 2018 called Amendment 4 which restored voting rights to an estimated 1.4 million non-violent felons in Florida, theGrio previously reported. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill a year later that prohibited the formerly incarcerated from casting ballots unless all their court-related debts were paid off.

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This prompted the FRRC to raise $30 million to help 40,000 people across Florida regain their voting eligibility, according to the Orlando Sentinel. 

American Friends Service Committee nominated the FRRC for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition “for their work in building democracy, supporting the human right to representation by government, and working towards a better organized and peaceful world,” the committee said in a statement.

The FRRC also received a nomination from Quaker Peace and Social Witness. This group, along with American Friends Service Committee, successfully nominated the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for the Peace Prize in 1964, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“The Nobel Peace Prize is the highest recognition that any individual organization could receive in the world,” said Desmond Meade, executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, at a news conference in Orlando on Friday. 

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Desmond Meade speaks onstage during LIVE FREE USA Turns 10: Creating Safer Neighborhoods Under The Direction Of Pastor Mike McBride at Ciel Creative Space on Nov. 9, 2021, in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Meade battled a cocaine addiction while in the military, which led to drug and firearm charges in 2001. He ultimately turned his life around and earned a law degree. Decades would pass before he voted for the first time in 2019. The state clemency board restored his full civil rights in 2021.

Meade’s advocacy and civil rights work have earned numerous awards, honors and accolades, including a MacArthur Fellowship “genius” grant that came with a $625,000 prize. Additionally, his work with the FRRC earned him an appearance on Time magazine’s Time 100.

Meade said the Nobel Peace Prize nomination highlights “the power of second chances,” noting at the news conference that “even though people like me have made mistakes in the past, there’s still an opportunity for us to be contributing members of society,” he said.

Neil Volz, the FRRC deputy director, said a lot of grassroots individuals “are going to be seen because of this nomination.”

In October, Nobel prizes will be announced, including the Peace Prize. Winners reportedly receive about $1 million.

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