SEATTLE – Marguerite Casey Foundation, in partnership with Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) and ABFE (formerly known as The Association of Black Foundation Executives), honored the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and Executive Director Desmond Meade with the Patiño Moore Legacy Award for mobilizing millions of Floridians to learn about and vote for Amendment 4, which restored voting rights to 1.4 million people in the state.
Voters overwhelmingly approved the measure in November. Its passage—with 64 percent of the vote—marks the largest voting rights expansion in the U.S. since 1971. Amendment 4 overturns felony definitions in the Florida Constitution that were added after the Civil War and disproportionately targeted non-white offenders, prohibiting them from voting.
“It is indeed an honor to receive this award especially considering the legacy of the award’s namesake and of the Foundation,” said Meade. “Inside the voting booth is an equalizing space that empowers us all. It’s a space in which marginalized communities can reclaim their power. Passing Amendment 4 promotes this empowerment while embracing the spirit of elevating our humanity about partisan politics and racial anxieties.”
Coalition members knocked on thousands of doors throughout the state and held hundreds of meetings to educate citizens about the policy. Uniting African American and Latinx communities around the issue was critical to their success. Open dialogue helped people discover shared experiences with racism and forge new relationships.
“At a time when the nation has become more polarized along racial, ethnic, and ideological lines, these efforts demonstrate people can come together around the fundamental rights of democracy,” said Luz Vega-Marquis, president and CEO of Marguerite Casey Foundation. “The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition brought together families from Black and Brown communities, urban and rural, and young and old people. They proved that change by families, for families, is possible.”
The Patiño Moore Legacy Award celebrates collaboration among Black and Brown communities, as well as movement-building that centers family-led organizing to find positive sustainable solutions, especially in the face of poverty. It is named after Dr. Douglas Patiño and Wenda Weekes Moore, leaders in the fields of higher education and public service, for their work together to improve relations between Black and Brown communities. Patiño is also a board member of Marguerite Casey Foundation.
Nominees were submitted by ABFE and HIP, which also participated in the award ceremony.
“We were thrilled to honor Desmond Meade and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, an organization that is doing such critical work across racial lines,” said Ana Marie Argilagos, President and CEO of HIP. “This award is an important reminder that the destinies of Black and Brown communities are tied together, and that justice for one of our communities means justice for all.”
The award includes $150,000 to support Florida Rights Restoration Coalition’s collaborative movement-building efforts toward a more just and equitable society.
Past award recipients include: The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Puerto Rico Community Foundation, Dolores Huerta, Marian Wright Edelman, Community Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment, Causa Justa :: Just Cause, National Domestic Workers Alliance, South by Southwest Experiment, and Puentes New Orleans, Inc.