Pre-Game to the poll, Block Party

Children participate at the "Pre-Game to the poll"
Photo submitted by Marie Rattigan

Planning begins within the state of Florida as residents prepare for the 2018 midterm election. This year's race can elect the state's first African-American governor, however, could likewise be the defining moment in the battle for restoration rights for felons.

To ensure voters participation organizations such as Dream Defenders Action Fund and the Student Power Network are educating the community on significant information that will be presented on the ballot. 

Dream Defenders is a grassroots member-driven organization, that was founded in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s murder. Dedicated to defending the right of all, to a quality education and to live free of police brutality, racial profiling, and mass incarceration. Their goal is to translate anger into transformative action for young people, poor people, and communities of color. 

Dream Defenders Action Fund Co-Director, Jonel Edwards help to organize “Pre-Game to the poll,” Block Party. Located on Perry Street from 1-5 p.m. that drew a crowd of more than 250 people.

“We are here today because this is a historical election, we have the opportunity to restore the right to vote to 1.4 million folks in the state of Florida. We have the opportunity to elect the first African American governor in the state of Florida ,”said Jonel Edwards University of Florida Graduate.

Free food was provided to the public, music and games was also played at the block party. Dream Defenders Action Fund, the Student Power Network alongside with other organizations such as FAMU Student Government Florida Restoration Rights Conference, Vote Mob and HBCU Coalition for Climate Change help to put on this event. 

“We are out here educating the community and advocating for the issues that pertain to our community specifically, here on Perry Street behind Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Perry Street is a neighborhood that sometimes feel forgotten, a neighborhood that is not spoken to.  It is a great community engagement and civic engagement, we are not only feeding people but educating them as well, “Richard Garzola Dream Defenders Action Fund organizer said. 

“Overall this event was resourceful, I met allot of powerful people of color that I would have not thought to see on Perry Street. I learned allot from the pamphlets due to the definitions provided elaboratively on each amendment. I am confident ready to vote because I know what amendments I am voting for’’ FAMU Alumna, Ashley Joseph said. 

“This event is about uplifting and this election is about making a change. Florida is one of the top states that direct files young people into adult prisons, that should not be. There is a plethora of issues that we all care about such as Criminal Justice reform, Racial Justice, Immigration Justice, Women Rights and LGBTQ justice. There are so many communities that needs us, that is why it is important for us to get out and vote,” David Caicedo with Florida Student Power said.