This year, JLUSA leader Savvy Shabazz cast his vote for the first time after 20 years as a disenfranchised voter

October 26, 2022

Leading with Conviction 2023 cohort member Savvy Shabazz is an advocate for formerly incarcerated people in Louisville, Kentucky, and Founder/CEO of Life Coach Each One Teach One Reentry Fellowship. After receiving a gubernatorial pardon from Governor Andy Beshear in 2020, he was able to vote for the first time in 20 years for Kentucky State Representative Keturah Herron, a friend and fellow JLUSA leader who helped Shabazz win his rights back and voted by his side in February this year.


What were the biggest barriers to having your voting rights restored?
The biggest barriers were the time it took to have it signed. I was still on parole until it was signed which still caused some road blocks with housing, employment, education, and of course fully participating in voting and being a part of my community. I missed being able to participate in the elections in 2020.

How did it feel to be able to cast your vote again?
It was truly an emotional experience, I felt part of my community again! I felt victorious! I also went to the poll site with my now State Representative Keturah Herron and voted for her. She was a catalyst in assisting me with the process of getting my rights restored and actually walked my pardon application into the office right beside me at the state capitol.

Why is it important for us all to fight against voter disenfranchisement?
It is important for all of us to fight against voter disenfranchisement because voting is not a privilege, it is a right that we should all have and exercise.

What advice do you have for anyone else working to have their voting rights restored?
I would have to say, “Keep up the fight!” and as Fredrick Douglas stated, “Agitate, Agitate, Agitate!” Meet with your legislation, participate in lobby days, build relationships with policy makers and make change!

Read more about his experience at the polls.

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