I first gained heard about Houston Justice when Durrel Douglas came to speak at the University of Texas School of Public Health.
Durrel shared some of his own stories, expressing where his passion begun for Houston Justice. He shared with us the dream, the initiative, the work and now the organization that works to strive for social justice.
#ProjectOrange was one of the three projects Durrel mentioned that I immediately latched on to. Although I have been engaged with the community for access to health care, improving the homeless epidemic and promoting equality in education for youth, I never knew of the opportunities that existed to help another community that is often silenced, those in our jails and prisons, our inmates.
I decided to sign up for Houston Justice’s VDVR training in order to be able to grant inmates a chance to vote. This decision was driven by my passion for social change, social justice and human rights.
After completing the training, I signed up for the first chance to register the inmates to vote. As a group of about 30 people, Houston Justice went to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center, where we were not only able to register the inmates and their families to vote, but provided them with a way to be contacted to receive a government ID (which many of them did not have).
I was surprised by the willingness and eagerness of the inmates to register to vote. The inmates were so excited to be able to execute their right to vote, and like me, were not educated correctly on their rights. Many thought because they would still be in jail at the time of the election and/or did not have a permanent residence, that this right was ripped away from them. They learned as I learned that most of them still held the right to vote. Not only did this give me an opportunity to make a difference in the community by serving the public and providing the inmates the chance to register to vote, it also gave the inmates a chance to know that their vote still matters. This was by far the most rewarding part of the Project Orange experience for me.
I was able to learn about the inmate community, the laws revolved around voting, and how to register voters. I will definitely continue to work with Houston Justice on Project Orange as well as the other project focuses like #HouVotes and the Black Census Project.
I am now a VDVR in Harris County and will continue to register people in all communities to vote. Every vote EQUALLY matters.