BPI is proud to announce Desmond Meade will give the commencement address for the 21st BPI Commencement at Eastern Correctional Facility on June 3rd, 2023, and will earn an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Bard College. 63 incarcerated Bard students have earned degrees this spring across multiple campuses.
Desmond Meade is a Returning Citizen, President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), Chair of Floridians for a Fair Democracy, a graduate of Florida International University College of Law, and a winner of the McArthur Genius Award.
As President and Executive Director of FRRC, which is recognized for its work on voting and criminal justice reform issues, Desmond led the FRRC to a historic victory in 2018 with the successful passage of Amendment 4, a grassroots citizen’s initiative which restored voting rights to over 1.4 million Floridians with past felony convictions. Amendment 4 represented the single largest expansion of voting rights in the United States in half a century and brought an end to 150 years of a Jim Crow-era law in Florida.
Recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2019, Desmond presently leads efforts to empower and civically re-engage local communities across the state, and to reshape local, state, and national criminal justice policies. His work has resulted in being named Floridian and Central Floridian of the Year 2019.