The Lakers find themselves three hours north from the place LeBron James used to call his “old stomping ground”. You could say that his years with the Miami Heat were the ones where he shined the brightest as was the dominating force in basketball. He is also striving to leave his mark outside of the basketball courts as he fights for social justice.
Amidst the glamour of the beaches and façades that find themselves all throughout Miami and Florida, there are serious social issues that seem to be covered up quite well. Amongst them is the inability for ex-felons to fully introduce themselves back into society. One of the ways where this is limited is in not allowing them to have a voice in their respective communities. The lifetime ban on voting rights imposed by the state imposed despite having paid their debts to society, is one of the ways where it has been impacted the most.
For many of these individuals, the odds of paying these fines is nearly impossible. That can be attributed to the inability to find a proper job that can pay decent wages. Florida is ranked near the bottom in terms of salaries. If you just look at Miami, it is one of the poorest cities in the United States. Conditions like these were exacerbated by the economic effects caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
This is why the Lakers star announced the beginning of More Than A Vote ‘s work in the State of Florida. James organization was founded back in June alongside group established athletes and personalities in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death back on May 25th .
More Than A Vote Video
The proceeds from this campaign will end up going to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. This is the movement that helped push Amendment 4, which would lift that ban on ex-felons preventing them from voting.
Lebron’s Social Impact
Since its official announcement, the coalition already raised over US$1.5 million for its fees-and-fines fund. That number is expected to grow after the announcement of their partnership with More Than A Vote, where greater attention will be focused on voter suppression.
After the amendment passed, the Republican-led state Legislature earlier this year raised the bar for felons to vote, passing a law that is being challenged in federal court. Greater obstacles were raised by governor, and major Trump ally, Ron De Santis when he challenged the election, taking his battle to the US Supreme Court.
Former Teammates Working Together
.@ThisIsUD stopped by to talk @MoreThanAVote, the voter rights group he's working with alongside LeBron James. So… what he would say to those who are skeptical that any candidates represent them, or that anything can really change? "I would tell them I was one of those people." pic.twitter.com/UCyjvUoZfR
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) June 25, 2020
One of the athletes that James is working with is former Heat teammate, Udonis Haslem. The Miami native is quite active in the fight for social justice and is quite outspoke about many incidents that have occurred in the past few years.
“We’re not politicians. We’re not policy experts. We’re real people in this community. We have a platform to protect the rights of these people. They need somebody they can trust and they don’t usually trust the people they are voting for. They can get behind athletes. They can get behind entertainers. They’ll listen to us. They’ll trust us.” said Haslem in an interview with ESPN.
This partnership arises at a time where there is a bitter legal fight over the voting requirement. Since the opposition and appeals have begun over Amendment 4, Democrats and civil rights groups considered what the government is Florida is looking to impose as the equivalent of an unconstitutional poll tax.
Prior to the elections in November, elections in Florida are scheduled for August 18. It will be important to see how many voters can have cleared in the coming weeks so they can participate then.