On Jan. 18, 2022, SI had the honor and privilege of welcoming back Rap Sessions for a highly engaging conversation between author and activist Bakari Kitwana and 2021 MacArthur “genius” Fellowship recipient Desmond Meade. Kitwana and Meade shared a candid dialogue on the major contemporary battles facing U.S. citizens seeking to practice the most fundamental right in a democratic society: the right to vote.
In 2018, as the executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and a returning citizen himself, Desmond led the movement to restore voting rights to 1.4 million Floridians with past felony convictions — including the painstaking struggle to secure and win a ballot initiative (Amendment 4 in 2018), the largest expansion of voting rights in a half centur). As the nation continues to confront the normalization of voter suppression laws and barriers that restrict voting in eighteen states, his expertise is needed more than ever.
Students had incredible, thoughtful, and critical questions for both Desmond and Bakari, demonstrating their appetite and appreciation to be in conversation with thought leaders for social and restorative justice in our country. We hope to bring Desmond and Bakari back to the SI community for continued dialogue!