LeBron James is helping create the America we all deserve.
On Friday, James’ voting rights non-profit, More Than A Vote, announced that the organization is raising funds to help individuals with felony records vote in Florida.
In 2018, Florida citizens voted to give individuals with past felony convictions their right to vote again.
But the Florida legislature passed a law earlier this year that prevented these individuals from voting unless they paid off their outstanding court fees.
The campaign, backed by James, said it will donate $100,000 to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, an organization that was extremely influential in lifting the voting ban two years ago against those with felony convictions.
The money will be used to negate the court debts of prior felons looking to make their voice heard in the swing state.
James started More Than A Vote after the senseless deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor ignited a national conversation on racial injustice and oppression. The group founded by James, which many other successful Black athletes and celebrities have attached their names to, will focus on fighting voter suppression.
The ACLU of Florida and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund say that the new rule implemented by Florida legislators was unconstitutional and essentially created a poll tax to prevent individuals with felony records from voting. A federal judge said that Florida’s pay-to-vote rule “falls short in substantial respects.”
The debts to be paid out by James’ organization do not cover restitution that some individuals must pay to their victims.
According to a study, 775,000 Florida citizens with a felony record have debts that thwart them from voting. Many of these Floridians are people of color.
The law is an obvious attempt to suppress the voices and rights of hundreds of thousands looking only for a fresh start — and a voice in government.
“Your right to vote shouldn’t depend upon whether or not you can pay to exercise it,” said More Than a Vote member Udonis Haslem, a longtime Miami Heat forward, in a written statement this week.
“This is a fight about their constitutional right to vote being denied,” James said in a Twitter post on Friday.
The 17-year NBA veteran is no stranger to the fight for equality and helping his community. From using his voice as an activist on social media, to starting his IPromise school for children in his hometown Akron, Ohio, James has been the leader we all need to follow.
Restoring voting rights for people with felony records not only fights against voter suppression and racial inequality, it sheds a light on the inhumanity of the criminal justice system and its long term effects on citizens hoping to find their way after making a mistake.
Allowing individuals to have access to their basic American rights shouldn’t be a political issue, it should just be a part of basic human decency in this country.
We know James gets it, it’s nothing new for him.
Even with the official restart of the NBA season getting underway in less than a week, James has yet again found another way to make an impact off the court.
It’s our turn to continue to follow his lead and make an impact in our communities through the best way we see fit.