As we ring in 2019, we're ready to have our most successful year yet. To do this, though, we first need to look back at how far we've come. Our office was recently graced with Naomi Farve (center), an integral player in VOTE's early roots. In the fall of 1987, our Executive Director Norris Henderson (right) and Voters Organized to Educate Director Checo Yancy (left) were incarcerated at Angola. They were both serving life sentences, which made them eligible to attend the Lifers Banquet, an annual event where people with life sentences could shares their wants, needs and visions with folks on the outside.
That night, as Henderson was giving a presentation about penal reforms that he and other members of the Angola Special Civics Project compiled, he was interrupted by a woman in the audience: Farve. She took the mic from him and vowed to use her position as the newly-elected Representative for House District 101 to carry their demands for reform forth. From there, she introduced House Bill 1709, which made everyone eligible for parole. Though the legislation didn't pass that year, she reintroduced a version of it every year until, in 1990, it passed and became Act 790. Sadly, by then the bill had been modified to make everyone but lifers eligible for parole. On the other hand, the passage of this Act became the foundation that later allowed Henderson, Yancy and other early members of the ASCP--which later became VOTE--to overturn their life sentence convictions and go home free.
We owe an immense amount of gratitude, respect and humility to Farve and other champions like her. Theirs are the shoulders we stand on as we plan for major wins in the years, decades and centuries ahead.
We thank you, too, for being part of this movement. If you'd like to help us start the year off strong, please make a new year donation to our work.