Tayna Fogle

IMG_2485.JPGTayna Fogle is a mother of 2, grandmother of 6, former UK Lady Kat, powerful leader in her community, former felon, and one of KFTC’s most powerful spokespeople on the issue of restoring voting rights to former felons who have served their debt to society. 

“I live in Northern Kentucky now,” says Tayna, “But I was born in Lexington and lived there almost my entire life and I feel very connected to that community.” 

“I’ve done some things I’m not too proud of in my life.  I’ve written cold checks, I’ve done drugs.  What’s worse is that my family – my mom, grandmother, and my kids - had to witness all of that.”

“I lost my mom and I lost my grandmother in the last few years.  The beauty is that they were able to witness the change in me – from all of the bad choices I made when I was younger to the woman I am today.”

“I give back to my community now, talking to organizations in Lexington and across the state, talking to kids to make sure they don’t make the same kinds of mistakes I did.” 

“What motivates me is that there are so many in Kentucky who have lost hope in themselves and their communities.  They’ve lost their voice and don’t remember how to use it.  God has helped me – and helped me to help others.”

“There’s no place I wouldn’t go to give back to my community – to give what was freely given to me – the opportunity to change.” 

Importance of Voting

“I remember when I found out I couldn’t vote was just devastating.”

“In September 2006, I jumped through all the hoops.  I paid the poll tax, wrote my essay, and got all of my character references.  I walked that application into the Governor’s office personally to get my rights back – and it worked.  It took several tries and a lot of time, but it worked”

“Most people aren’t that persistent, but I am.  Frankly, I don’t think you should need to be determined as I was to be able to get your voting rights back – an in any outher US state but Virginia, you wouldn’t have to be.”

“I never have figured out what committing a crime has to do with being able to vote.  We have to pay for that same crime twice – but with a life sentence. “

“Voting matters to me.  It’s not all about Obama and McCain, either.  I also want to be able to vote in the school board for my grandchildren’s education – and on the local ownership of water issue (from a few years ago in Lexington) so I can make sure my family has clean water to drink.  This is pretty basic stuff.”

“It gives former felons a sense of ownership In their communities.  They’ll be stakeholders.  We’re smart and we’ve got good ideas.  We don’t go back to prison if we’ve got somewhere better to be.  Once we have a glimpse of hope, we go for it.”

Faith

“I’m a very religious Christian and I think that if people honestly practiced their faiths – Christianity and other major world religions - we’d be in a different place on this issue.” 

“Forgiveness, loving your neighbor, compassion - If we truly believed all of that, then we wouldn’t have to have this discussion about whether former felons can vote or not.” 

“We have all of these legislators who are prominent in their churches who somehow can’t make the connection.” 

“God is always watching – and we’d better make this right.” 

Generational Curse

“I don’t want my kids or anyone else’s kids to go down the road I went down.  Our children need the right to experience joy and happiness.  I take my grandchildren with me when I talk about voting rights because they need to learn about this stuff.” 

“My son Michael didn’t see a lot of voting growing up as my son – and didn’t see a lot of voting in the rest of the neighborhood either.”

“In 2008, he registered to vote at the KFTC table.  I think he saw how  important getting involved in the community has been for me and how big a difference it’s made in my life and he thought he’d give it a try.” 

“When he went to that voting booth last year, I recorded his every movement with my camera as he was voted for the first time.

DSCN0538“I had tears in my eyes and I was so proud for him.  I got to pin his “I Voted” sticker on him.”

“So many of my son’s peers seem to be so jaded about democracy – but to see so many of them get excited about it last year, was so fulfilling.”

“My son Michael even wrote a rap song about voting a few months later and performed it in Georgetown College.”

Organizing

“If I didn’t have powerful people around me like KFTC, I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do today.   KFTC members told me that I could make a difference and I started to believe them.  Once I finally got that down in my soul, there was no turning back.  It helps keep me going.” 

“I get to go all around the state and talk to organizations, and classes, and legislators, and former felons about this issue.  I’ve met so many great people over the last few years doing this work and so many of them want to get involved in this work too.

“Most people aren’t as outgoing as I am, but so many folks help out behind the scenes, sending emails to their legislators, talking to their neighbors, and making phone calls.”

“I get to witness people getting their rights back and making their lives better.  There’s nothing better than that.”

“It’s contagious.” 

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