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Faith leaders plans to help after legislative session ends

Posted at 7:08 PM, May 02, 2023

"We're very much concerned about all of the bills that have been passed this session which are not in the best interest of Floridians and we're here to stand together," said Dr. Rufus Wood Jr., the second Vice President of the statewide NAACP and a pastor in Panama City.

Dozens of faith leaders, community organizations and activists are coming together to strategize how they can help people going forward after the legislative session ends. Even though session ends on Friday, they said they aren't giving up just yet.

They say they may have lost the fight but they're not going to lose the war and the way they do that is by teaming up and encouraging more youth to get involved.

"We're coming together because we know that this is a fight and we must work together in this fight," said Wood.

Dozens of church leaders, community organizations and activists from across the state are joining together to come up with a plan on how to support those impacted by this legislative session moving forward. A few of the bills they're against have to do with education, access to health care and voting rights.

Wood Jr. said he is disappointed in some of the bills being passed this legislative session, but he's hopeful about the good that's happening as a result.

"Many of the bills that have been passed have been really discouraging, but again I'm encouraged when I see so many young people who are concerned about their future and they're standing up and they're speaking out," said Wood.

One of those young people is Andres Cuvillos. He is a student activist who's involved in many organizations on and off of Florida State University's campus.

Cuvillos' main concerns this session are restricting access to voting rights and education laws that would ban diversity, equity and inclusion and sexual identity programs. However, he is excited to strategize with other churches and organizations on how to offer support to people being impacted by these bills.

"We are going to find creative solutions to get around those types of laws and actually address some of the actual issues that our education system is facing," said Cuvillos.

Although there is no concrete plan in place just yet on how they'll help after session, Cuvillos said informing people and getting them to the polls is a good first step.

"The increased awareness of Florida's politics is really beneficial for young people because we're starting to realize that this isn't a process that we are excluded from. It's something that we can actively participate in and I think that's really going to show next year," said Cuvillos.

Wood said this group will continue to meet even after session ends in hopes of expanding their reach and resources for people who are affected by these changes in the future.