A Landmark Year For ACLU Florida

As we look back over the past year, we can be very proud of our progress in the area of voting rights and racial justice in Florida. Despite the prevalence of felon disfranchisement and racial profiling, the ACLU of Florida has been a leading voice for racial equality thanks to comprehensive efforts in public policy advocacy and public education, as well as the unwavering support of our donors, volunteers and staff.

The ACLU of Florida Voting Rights and Racial Justice Projects have expanded over the past year, achieving landmark goals in felon re-enfranchisement, the elimination of racial profiling, education on racial justice and human rights, and voting rights.

We have helped hundreds navigate the bureaucratic process of civil rights restoration, addressed racial profiling during Memorial Day weekend in South Beach, coordinated the visit of the U.N. Special Rappateur on Racism to open the dialogue on human rights and devoted significant attention to voting issues related to the November 2008 presidential election.

Highlights from the past year are below, and we hope you will continue to support the ACLU through your continued membership.

Felon Re-Enfranchisement

Through restoration of civil rights (RCR) workshops and our multilingual toll-free helpline, we have provided assistance to hundreds of Floridians with past felony convictions seeking to have their rights restored.

ACLU of Florida staff continues to be the foremost resource for media on the issue of felon disfranchisement in Florida. Over the past year, our media outreach efforts have resulted in a solid New York Times editorial supporting automatic RCR, an interview on NPR's "All Things Considered" and coverage of RCR issues in every major newspaper in Florida. Racial Justice Project (RJP) staff also worked closely with the producers of "Locked Out," a BET News documentary on felon disfranchisement.

The ACLU of Florida report, "Still Voteless and Voiceless in Florida," was released in March 2009 and reveals barriers for thousands of Florida citizens with past felony convictions to exercise their right to vote. We are confident that the report will be a catalyst for future RCR reforms.

Racial Profiling

One of our ongoing initiatives is to address racial profiling by Miami Beach police during Memorial Day weekend. This involves coordinating meetings and strategy sessions with partnering organizations and officials involved in the policing of Urban Beach Week (UBW). The ACLU also analyzed public records relating to the arrests, made recommendations regarding effective policing that does not rely on arrests and recruited volunteers to engage in monitoring police activities throughout the weekend.

Racial Justice & Human Rights

In 2008, RJP was honored to plan and coordinate the visit to Miami by the U.N. Special Rappateur on Racism, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Race Discrimination. We took the lead in bringing together a diverse array of community organizations to host a series of panel discussions on human rights.

In December 2008, the RJP commemorated the 60th anniversary of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights by hosting events throughout the state to raise public awareness of human rights by obtaining Human Rights proclamations from at least three Florida cities.

Election 2008

In 2008, the Voting Rights Project devoted significant time and attention to voting issues relating to the November 2008 presidential election. We planned and attended meetings with county supervisors of elections to identify and avoid potential problems at the polls and provided non-partisan voter information to Florida voters.

We invite you to read the complete Racial Justice/Voting Rights Project Year in Review 2008-2009 report online.

Thank you for your continued support.


Muslima Lewis, Director
Voting Rights and Racial Justice Projects
American Civil Liberties Union of Florida