Juneteenth day will be celebrated in African American communities across the nation this weekend. In Florida the day will also be marked by push to restore voting rights to former felons.
On June 19th 1865 slaves in Galveston Texas learned that President Abraham Lincoln had signed the emancipation proclamation – freeing them from bondage – two years earlier. That Juneteenth is a date that lives in history. This year history was also made in Florida when the state streamlined the process that restores civil rights – including voting rights – to former felons. Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union want to make sure that happens. Muslima Lewis is the ACLU’s director of Racial Justice and Voting Projects in Florida.
"under the new rules of executive clemency individuals who do get their rights restored under the more streamlined process that now exists may not learn about it because the burden is on them to make sure that their contact information is up to date with the department of corrections and office of clemency."
The ACLU is one of more than forty groups that comprise the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. Coalition members will be at Juneteenth Celebrations across the state this weekend advising former felons of what steps to take to restore their rights. About one million people - many of whom are African American – are impacted. NAACP and ACLU members will be at the Juneteenth Celebration at the Robert Taylor Community Center on Saturday.
Earlier this year Governor Charlie Crist signed legislation making it easier for former non-violent felons in Florida to have their civil rights restored. But the onus is on the individual to pursue the process. This coming weekend members of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition will be attending Juneteenth Celebrations around the state to advise people about the change in the law and help them take advantage of it. Muslima Lewis is the Racial Project Director for the American Civil Liberties Union.
"the link to juneteenth is while most of the individuals who have lost their civil rights are not African American, they’re white, but the African American community is disproportionately affected – and there’s a real parallel to juneteenth where we commemorate the fact that slaves in Galveston Texas did not learn that slavery had ended until two and half years after the fact."
Lewis says the theme for the Juneteenth Campaign is “Your Vote is your Voice”. In Southwest Florida Coalition will attend Juneteenth events in Sarasota on Saturday a the Robert Taylor Community Center and in Belle Glade at the First Missionary Baptist Church.
Friday, 15 June 2007 01:00
Juneteenth DayWritten by WGCU Newsroom