The Dream Defenders were formed three days after the Trayvon Martin verdict that incited Black America. The group coordinated a march from Daytona Beach to Sanford to protest the verdict. From there the group confronted Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws by conducting a 31 day sit-in at Florida Governor Rick Scott’s office after he refused to convene a special session to review the laws.
“We said if [Scott] would not give us a seat at the table, we would sleep on the floor until [he] gave us what we deserved,” Agnew told the Miami Herald.
The Governor met with them on July 18th but refused to call the session. The group then attempted to persuade state lawmakers to call the session themselves, but they were not able to secure the necessary votes. 42 lawmakers voted in favor of the session, 90 voted against it, and 28 failed to participate in the poll. The group’s new goal is to register 61,550 voters (a number chosen based on Governor Scott’s margin of victory in the last election) to oppose the Governor’s re-election.
Although the sit-in did not produce the exact results that the group set out for, their efforts are more than commendable. They show perseverance, endurance, and ingenuity in pursuit of their ultimate goal. This is a valuable lesson for the new generation of activists. We have a tendency in our generation to justify the means by the ends. And if the ends is not the result we wanted, we devalue the means and consider it time wasted. Unfortunately, for an undertaking as large as changing legislation statewide or countrywide, it must be expected that every initiative will not produce the change that is sought. Change is won through commitment, innovation, and determination. The Dream Defenders appear to possess all those qualities. Not only have they received national coverage of their efforts, their sit-in was supported through physical presence by Harry Belafonte, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Talib Kweli, and Julian Bond (one of the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee). Respect.
The younger generations (Generation X and Generation Y) have often been called lazy, entitled, and narcissistic. While I would not suggest that on those characteristics exist on the more negative spectrum of our generation’s characteristics; I will say that those same characteristics expressed positively are our greatest strengths. We are not as much narcissistic as we are vindicated. We have grown up in a world that demanded that we grow up, get educated, think independently, and be self sufficient. In meeting those demands we know exactly what are potential is and make no qualms about expressing it. We are not entitled as much as we are expectant. After all the groundwork that our forefathers have laid, we are not going to allow our country to cheat us of the things they have already paid for — this is not suggest that we don’t have our own work to do but all too often we find ourselves having to fight for the things our parents’ parents allegedly already earned (I.e voting rights, protection of civil liberties, and the right not to be discriminated against). We are not lazy as much as we are dreamers. It’s easy to look from the outside and presume a person is merely sleeping, but on closer look one might see our eyes fluttering as we dream up the future.
What I’m saying is that everything that we have been given, we expect to have full access to and that which we need we are dreaming up how to get it. Everything we see around us was once a dream — now come true. The colonists only dreamed of separating from Britain; here we are in a country that once led the world. The abolitionist only dreamed of freeing the slaves; here we are in a county where no person can be property. The civil rights activists only dreamed of voting and being served at the same counters as Whites; now have the constitutional right to be treated the same. The LGBT community only dreamed of being able to publicly declare their romantic loves; now a wave of states are giving them the right to marry. The point is that we cannot downplay the importance of dreams. What begins as a dream today, feeds the imagination tomorrow, and becomes a vision for the future. And visions, when organized, planned, and pursued, become tangible parts of our reality.
We may seem ill equipped to deal with the world, but that’s only because it’s not our world yet. The world we’ve inherited, the one’s our parents grew up in, is soon to fade away. It’s not the world that we will control and have to exist in. That world, the one that belongs to us, we are more than prepared to engage. The Dream Defenders are evidence of that.
They are leading the next generation. They are using traditional methods with a modern agenda. A peaceful sit-in but one that is informed and makes specific demands that are informed about the system and its processes. What this group is bringing to pass are the dreams that we dreamt 10-20 years ago. The dreams that were formulated into plans 5-10 years ago. The struggle that we now fight to create the world that we envision for the future. But it all started as a dream.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said:
“I have a dream today …I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight
Tupac Shakur said:
“Reality is wrong; dreams are for real.”
John Lenned penned the lyrics:
“You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you will join us and the world will be as one.”
All those dreams are years before us. but they let us validate for us the neckssity kf dreams and they validate our defending ours. For our generation, our power and unity lies in the fact that we share the same dream. With knowledge and action, we will bring those dreams to pass.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man