As I speak with you there are a group of mostly young people who have been peacefully protesting in the Florida State Capital since Tuesday July 16th. They are demanding that Florida Governor Rick Scott “CONVENE A SPECIAL SESSION OF THE LEGISLATURE TO ENACT “TRAYVON’S LAW”: TO REPEAL STAND YOUR GROUND, CONFRONT RACIAL PROFILING, AND END THE SCHOOL-TO-PRISON PIPELINE.”
This group of young people known as the Dream Defenders, mostly college students from the state of Florida committed to marching from Daytona to Sanford (40 miles) to bring attention to a free and uncharged George Zimmerman last April. And now they have been in the State Capitol for 14 Days 3 Hours and 19 Minutes and 20 Seconds.
I marched with those students and was so proud to see a group of young people deciding for themselves what their issue, strategy and mobilization style would be with the assistance of advisors, but not being controlled by some organization trying to tell them what their movement should be. And the Dream Defenders never stopped from there. Phillip Agnew, the group’s Executive Director, and others continued to work in Sanford and around the state training young people and citizens to organize. They additionally became a visible part of a growing youth movement not looking for traditional organizations or leaders to tell them what they can and cannot do. They are operating in the legacy of so many young people who came before them in the face of a national discussion that says young people don’t have the chops for civil rights and social justice the way the previous generation did. They have now been in the capitol for 14 Days 3 Hours and 20 Minutes and 35 Seconds, but family they have now been consistently organizing on this ONE issue since April of last year.
As we approach the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, remember the young people that were part of that movement, let us begin to hand the baton and the resources, training, support, and faith to young people prepared to go the distance. The Dream Defenders represent a special energy that if you look carefully enough and listen long enough you can see and hear all over the country. Roland Martin, myself, and a score of not so young servants were invited on a call by IMPACT another group of young DC professionals to speak to over 2000 young people following the Zimmerman verdict who ARE looking to be connected to movement work and the training that helps them be successful in that work. We must support ALL OF THEM.
While many young people are trying to simply survive (and there is no shame in that), and others are lost in their condition, there are young people saying, I don’t want a title or a position and I’m not trying to be on the news or win an award. I am young enough to be unafraid, but old enough to know that JUSTICE is not a cliché. This weekend their was an attempt made to block their food coming into the Capital. Somebody is scared of them.
Family, go to www.dreamdefenders .org and Support the Dream Defenders by sending them supplies, dollars, and prayers. But more than that support a new generation of servants that I assure you wont let you down. 14 Days 3 Hours and 22 Minutes and counting…