Mississippi Man On A Mission to Restore Voting Rights | NowThis

– That’s me and that’s my brother. When I first got out, me and my brother was trying to good for the community. We go up there and register
to vote and they said, ‘Hey, you can’t register to vote. As a matter of fact, you
can get a felony charge for what you’re about to do.’ It was like, what? I’m a citizen. I should
have a political voice in the United States of America. I have a huge family. I adopted some children.
I’m a licensed foster parent out of Union County. I’ve got nine kids. I got two already in college, thank God. This is my beautiful wife right here. – Hey, and it’s snowin’! – Yay! I think it is ironic. You know, hey, you’re
working for a government, but the same government
don’t want you to vote. You’re a peewee football coach. I got 430 kids that I mentor and coach. I’m proud of you. So you
gonna get to go to the game ’cause you got all your AR points. – Yup. – Ah, that’s good. See, that’s what it takes. For a long time, I was
ashamed to tell my kids. They’re like, ‘Daddy,
are you not gonna go vote?’ And some of them actually asked me, ‘Hey, can we go with you to vote? We wanna see.’ And then I have to tell
them, ‘No, I can’t vote.’ [mumbling] Since I’ve been out, I ain’t
even had a speeding ticket since then. Hadn’t done nothing. I have dedicated myself to
the state of Mississippi, to the children, to the community. [mumbling] Life in prison was very hard. I was ashamed. I had done
let my community down, my mother down. I done let my family down. But I had my brother there the whole time; me and him was never separated. We spent the entire time there together, so that helped a lot. We really wanted to
get out, and make good, and let people know that
that’s not who we was. So we joined the local
fire department up here. It was mopping floors and doing anything that we can do to give
back to the community. We just kept climbing the ladder, and I wound up being the chief
of that fire department. We went and tried to vote, and they said, ‘Hey, you know, you gotta register to vote.’ And then, so we go up there
and register to vote, and they said, ‘Hey, you
can’t register to vote. As a matter of fact, you
can get a felony charge for what you’re about to do.’ It was like, what? I’m a citizen. Why can I not vote? I have a right to vote. I don’t have a voice. I can’t be heard. My opinion doesn’t matter. You’re nothing. You’re scum. – Currently, Mississippi
is one of three states in the country that takes
away people’s right to vote for life for conviction of
all disqualifying crimes. There is functionally no way
to get your right to vote back. Except if you’re
handpicked by the governor or if you are handpicked by
a legislator to file a bill in your name that must pass
Mississippi’s Legislature by two-thirds of both houses. When you’re talking about 50,000 people who lose their right to vote, 30,000 people who’ve
completed their sentence— including probation, parole—
and then you’re talking about, you know, between 10 and 20 people over a five-year period who
actually get their right to vote back by this
suffrage bill process. We don’t have a meaningful way for people to get their right to
vote back in Mississippi. [upbeat music] White people who had
been in political power and who were in political
power sought to consolidate white political power. They used violence, fraud, intimidation to carry elections. And when African Americans were still actually winning elections, they called a constitutional
convention in 1890 for the express stated
purpose of finding ways to take the vote away
from African Americans and to consolidate political
power for white Mississippians. Sweeping up poor people of all colors. but, you know, we understand
that this law was rooted in racial animus, but it
will include a lot of people, you know, in Mississippi
who are all citizens who deserve the right to vote back. [upbeat music] We are still in the midst
of trying to chip away at the 1890 Constitution,
which Mississippi then exported to other Southern states, to the Northern states, along
with the Great Migration, with a lot of people who became
fearful of African Americans gaining political power. But the main fight is to
educate people about what these voting bans are,
where they come from, why they’re un-American. They’re absolutely unconstitutional,
but people can change these voting bans at the state
level, and they ought to, because the states are the
people that took a carving knife to their own constituency. Dennis is a important
example of some of the costs to everybody else of taking these people out of the electorate. – My brother died December 16, 2017. I lost him in an auto accident, and that killed me right there. That hurt. Everything me and him went through, everything we fought for, that was one of the worst— that was the worst thing that I’ve ever went through in my life. He was gonna join with us, too, and try to get his rights
back and help fight, but unfortunately, he got
killed on that Saturday, so he had to give up the fight then. And that’s why I felt inspired
that for him and me, I’m gonna fight this. In the state of Mississippi,
throughout the United States, we all need to stand up and
fight for our right to vote and let our voice be heard. Dr. Martin Luther King said it wisely: I am a man, and I will not go away. I’m gonna get my right to vote back, and I’m gonna be a proud American. And if you give me a chance, I will make the government proud of me. And every other convict
out there in the world’ll make you proud if you
give them the opportunity because we’re not dogs. And we’re not animals. We’re human beings that made a mistake. [gentle music]

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Felons who served their time "paid their debt" to society, right? Therefore, being freed from jail, they should be restored to wholeness of citizenship, including their right to vote!

  2. I know a lot of peoples in Georgia with felony charges they are allowed to vote some black with felony charges they would not let vote I thought once a felony charges a felony I guess it for the people with the wrong color African American and Mexican

  3. They don't understand you just have to break it down to them and explain why you should have your right back to vote lot of people will not tell you felony charges follow you for 7 years but some states try to make it stay on you forever but it doesn't work like that in the system some states make their own laws against felony so they cannot vote and Mississippi is one and then Georgia Alabama Virginia North Carolina they did that only because of the black

  4. Fair enough no prisoner should be allowed to vote but once released they have served there time payed there debt to society so should allow to vote

  5. The white racist system will sacrifice a few whites for the explicit purpose of hurting Black people whom they hate.

  6. If the people in Mississippi want to change the laws, they will.
    For the time being, don't go breaking the laws of the government flagrantly… if you want to have a voice in how the government is run.
    You can try this sad piano music routine all you like, this is not how the majority of ex-cons are. The majority are actually recidivist career criminals.

  7. Hey bud, if you or anyone else in historically Red State Mississippi vote for republiKLANS and trump then you are not serious about changing your situation. You're literally committing suicide by voting against your own best interest.

  8. My husband was convicted of a felony before we met. He told me how hard it was on him to not be able to vote, so I researched and found he could get his rights back. We went for lunch the next day and I made a detour to the voting office and he went in and registered to vote with tears in his eyes. I truly feel for the people who can't vote after truly turning their lives around. They all need to come together and fight for their rights back. Everyone should write and call the governor of Mississippi on his behalf.

  9. Florida basically had the same law up until 2018 there was a Statewide vote to give nonviolent felonies a reprieve.. it passed by the voters now they are able to vote.. they will probably be voting in 2020… good luck sir I hope you win…

  10. This is what they call systemic racism. The fact that segregation and Jim Crow era laws are still in effect tells ya we're still a very racist country. One man getting his vote back doesn't mean much, if we don't get rid of these laws both in writing and in practice then we cannot begin to end racism in this country.

  11. A white man experiencing the ruthless racism that his fellow whites intended for African-Americans only. Irony at it finest. They will never overturn the law cause if they do, they lose the ability to gerrymander votes from POCs. Amerikkka.

  12. Potts City saw to it that this man got a good paying job with the municipality, Mississippi's foster system has entrusted him to be a legal guardian to surrendered children, he's demonstrated that he's a dedicated and law-abiding citizen, and he's a taxpayer…… yet he's been stripped of the basic right to vote in elections because of a crime he committed two decades ago. That's not right.
    It's ridiculous that men and women are treated as lesser citizens because of their personal record, and are forced to carry that millstone around their necks for the rest of their lives. They have served their time, they are integrating back into society, they aren't repeat offenders, and men like Mr. Hopkins should be afforded the ability to vote. Especially when those who are committing the real atrocities and crimes are often time the ones writing the voting rights bills, and buying elections. That's why this November is a watershed moment, not just in politics, but in battling to shore up the democratic rights of all citizens, and shifting power back to the constituents instead of centralizing power in the hands of the few.

  13. Felons who want their right to vote it’s like illegals asking to be citizenship of the Murica, so for that sorry bud you dun messed up not gonna happen.

  14. He does not have to make the government proud of him just as family and the people close to him. I don't want to get started on our messed up government. Shameless

  15. Ignoring and writing off southern states as “unsalvageable” due to regressive policies does nothing to help those fighting against such policies, it only aides further regression

  16. Mississippi State vote like Florida felon rights and you can vote again too.
    .we voted to restore felon rights and we the people won by showing up and voting. 👍💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙

  17. The 4 main purposes of the prison system are: Retribution, incapacitation, deterrence, and rehabilitation.
    To bar a felon from voting is a slap in the face to each of those 4 purposes. How can a person truly feel as a stand up member of society in America if they aren't even allowed to vote?

    That is because the prison system isn't truly about any of those things anymore it seems due to for profit prisons. For profit prisons need people to be criminals. That is abhorrent and I'll never understand why we as a nation let that come to pass.

  18. Our justice system is broken. It is built to keep people from being able to rejoin society

    Sir we are proud of you and all the things you to achieve

  19. Every single one of our Founding Father's was once guilty of committing 'high crimes' against the political establishment. Furthermore, every single member of the Confederate army (which means EVERY white man in Mississippi) was in fact, a 'rebel'. To take voting rights away away from people who have been convicted of felonies is to assume 1) that government is always just and never passes laws that are morally wrong 2) that a person who has made unethical choices in the past will never learn and will forever continue to so. This way of thinking is fundamentally opposed to everything this country stands for.

  20. Rooted in racism and fixing the vote in favour of rich white supremacy and oppression of anyone outside of them. If you know anyone who doesn't want this law to change, you now know why.


  22. That’s a good man! He’s already a far better man than our lying, 3-time cheating, 2-time divorcée, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, islamaphobic President!

  23. This man has every right to seek his voting right reinstated! This is a corrupt system that has chipped away at the voting rights of the people! Voter suppression plain and simple. Don the con should lose his right to vote for all the crimes he’s committed during his “presidency”!

  24. This country's horrific racist past is hidden so deep & people of color were & are held back from education, voting rights, government & their voices muted just because of the pigment in their skin….and americans let it happen!! Now it's affecting white people…and americans cry tears & say…..NO MORE, this is wrong!! 😢🤭🙄

  25. Sometimes is seems like these southern states like Mississippi are being governed by the Taliban with these types of draconian laws.

  26. I hope the best for this man but this is what happens when racism is allowed to prevail in american society, laws that were put in place primarily to hurt black people will come back to hurt white people as well.
    I don't know for certain but it's a safe bet that many in his family, himself included, supported policies that targeted black people, but now that it's at their front door reality has given them a slap in the face. Wake up white america racism hurts everybody in the end.

  27. noOne not evenFelons should lose their right2vote…. it's a gopCrime…… even Nixon could vote….accepting a pardon is acceptance of guilt… (Y)

  28. If you cant vote you legally cant vote why let them have government jobs why let use social services basically i hate the fact these states halfass there points

  29. You're upstanding and moral enough to foster children, but not enough to vote??? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard… but the real reason they don't want you to vote is because they think you'll vote against Republicans and this is another way they cheat to win elections. The majority of the country leans left. FACT! Keep fighting, I'm proud to be your fellow American!!

  30. This is horrible, he has not just service his time but is giving back to the community. He should have the right to vote. This sounds like he lives in a communist country.

  31. It’s shocking America is considered a functioning democracy when things like this, gerrymandering, impeachment proceedings where the trier colludes openly with the defendant, etc. It’s a more and more a banana republic with a dictator that runs kangaroo courts and people can be kept from voting for historically racist reasons.

  32. If you’re a ex con that continues to be a criminal out of prison, the last thing you want to do or care about is voting. This man is truly reform. Regardless of who he wants to vote for, He’s a tax paying citizen and deserve to have his voice heard. There needs to be an appeal process to grant these people their right to vote back.

  33. Seems like a good dude. Likeable guy. This is so stupid… yet of course, people in government get away with things 10x worse than what this guy did.

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