THEN: Homeless, Addicted & Convicted…NOW: Time’s “100 Most Influential People”


For the past 15 years, Time magazine has selected it’s list of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.” The 2019 issue includes Lady Gaga, Donald Trump, Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Mark Zuckerberg and Dwayne Johnson.

It also includes Desmond Meade, a name you’ve probably never heard before. In 2005, Desmond Meade had three strikes against him. He was homeless. He was a drug addict. And he was a convicted felon. Reaching the lowest point in his life, he was prepared to commit suicide by jumping in front of a moving train. But according to Meade, the train “never came that day.” And he opted to check himself into a rehabilitation facility instead.

He set a new path for himself earning an associates, bachelors and law degree. And then Desmond set his sights on the passage of Florida’s Amendment 4. Officially known as the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative, Amendment 4 was a ballot initiative to restore the voting rights of an estimated 1.5 million Floridians with felony convictions. Political pundits gave the initiative very little chance of ever getting on the ballot let alone passing with the required 60% approval by the electorate.

It took Desmond and his team at the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition nearly a decade. But on November 6, 2018, Amendment 4 passed with 65% of the vote.

According to Meade, “I tell people that on November 6th, on election night, the country got to see love winning the day. We had over 5.1 million votes, a million more than any candidate received. And those votes weren’t based on hate and fear, they were based on love, forgiveness, and redemption. Love actually won the day. Love destroyed that Jim Crow law.”

Click here to read the Time magazine article about Desmond Meade, penned by Stacey Abrams, former Democratic Minority Leader for the Georgia House of Representatives.

One thought on “THEN: Homeless, Addicted & Convicted…NOW: Time’s “100 Most Influential People”

  1. Amy Yontef-McGrath Reply

    Andy, what an amazing story to share! Desmond, I am in awe of your resilience, tenacity, brilliance, and heart. People without a voice are still prisoners and you changed that! This is a story of real hope as if this law could be changed, the possibilities for justice, fairness, and love are endless. A true fan and admirer.

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