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Beyond the Law School: Meghoo-Peddie Puts ‘One Love’ Into Practice

Published: March 3rd, 2003

Category: News Briefs

Associate Director of the Levin College of Law Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations (CSRRR) Desta Meghoo-Peddie signs her e-mail with the Rastafari motto she lives by — “One Love” — and puts it into practice personally and professionally. “‘One Love’ is the key Rastafari concept that encompasses all aspects of life. Love means truly wanting the best for others, which is why I strive to promote equal rights and justice for all,” said Meghoo, who also is mother to eleven — ten natural-born and her godson, whose mother died in an accident. Meghoo also engaged the principle in the 15 years she spent managing big-name Reggae and African artists such as Rita Marley. “I made a point of representing only artists whose lyrics related to social justice,” Meghoo said. “That was my small way of promoting human rights. Law was a logical way to expand my role.” She earned her J.D. from UF in 1999, and began work at CSRRR in 2001. Under her direction, the center will hold its annual conference, “Rhyme, Rhetoric and Race,” later this month (see sidebar at right). CSRRR works with local associations and government committees and often is consulted by state commissions regarding diversity issues and training. Most of its work in the community is on a volunteer basis. “The center was even involved in a project in Ghana,” Meghoo said. “They were giving immunizations in a village and wanted to ensure a certain level of sensitivity to the local culture, so they called us in.” Meghoo also volunteers with the National Organization for Children of Prisoners (NOCOPS), Take Stock in Florida (TSF) and National Council of Negro Women International Projects, among others. NOCOPS is a mentoring program for children whose parents are/have been incarcerated, and has sparked the interest of groups in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. “This is something new for me,” Meghoo said. “The pilot program has 17 children in middle school and provides mentoring and guidance to children to attempt to stop the cycle of incarceration. I want to encourage them to use their experience with the justice system to learn.” TSF is a statewide program that provides scholarships for low income children. Students participate from middle through high school, meeting with mentors once a week. “We help them stay on track during those crucial years, and at the end, they get a full college scholarship,” Meghoo said. “There’s value in all of us, despite economic status or race, and usually people just need opportunity and access and success will follow.” Several hundred children are involved in TSF, which is funded by private contributions. “Having a law degree puts us in a privileged position,” Meghoo said. “We all must find ways to use that privilege to promote the well-being of others.”

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