Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech is etched into the American consciousness because of its call for a truly color-blind society. While that utopian sensibility may fall short of reality, the Dream Defenders are doing their best to bring us closer to that ideal.
The group began in Florida in response to the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, who was shot to death by a night watchman while returning home from a nearby store. Phillip Agnew, the son of a Chicago pastor, was then a student at Florida A&M University. He used his frustration and anger at the situation to form Dream Defenders, eventually organizing a 31-day occupation of Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s office.
Billed as a group of Black and Brown youth who confront systematic inequality by building their collective power, Dream Defenders has since been at the forefront of social justice protests including in Ferguson, Missouri, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed by a police officer.
“We’re taking powerless people into a position of power,” Agnew told MSNBC in 2013. “Power to move, power to get what you want and deserve. We do that because we have love. Love and power. It’s everything.”