Tallahassee, FL - On the morning of March 5, over 150 Black and brown Dream Defenders from across the state converged onto the state capitol here to deliver one important message to Florida Legislators and Governor Rick Scott on the first day of legislative session: the start of the “Dream Era.”
Dressed in black shirts with the phrase “Can we dream together” etched in white, the Dream Defenders gathered on the first floor of the Capitol building, starting off the day with a press conference to tell state legislators and national press about their Dream Agenda. Speakers from Dream Defender chapters all over Florida, including Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Tallahassee, spoke on the issues of stopping Florida’s school to prison pipeline, immigration, and repealing Florida’s absurd Stand Your Ground Law, as well as stopping Republican efforts to suppress the votes of Black and brown people. There, Dream Defenders delivered their own State of the State address, hours before Governor Rick Scott was scheduled to give his later that day.
After the speeches, the 150-deep crowd chanted, “Whose state is this? The state is ours, the state is ours, the state is ours!” to the same rhythm as the famous old school rap single, “The World is Ours” by hip hop artist Nas. The large crowd of Black and brown youth then marched to the fourth floor of the Capitol rotunda to greet the legislators and Governor Scott.
The students lined up in two with signs that read, “Can we dream together?," “I am human,” “Zero tolerance for zero tolerance,” and “Welcome to the Dream Era.” Chants then began, and the legislators and lobbyists immediately started to feel the effect of the Dream Defenders’ attendance. The singing chants of, “Mama, Mama can’t you see, what the system's done to me,” echoed throughout the whole building, even into the legislative chambers where legislators were taking in session.
Dream Defender and FAMU Chapter President Elijah Armstrong led chants and other activists chimed in with, “We are the dreamers, the mighty Dream Defenders,” all to the chagrin of capitol police and security who tried to stop the chants. However they were unsuccessful as the youth kept on, waiting to confront Governor Scott before he gave his State of the State address.
With Dream Defenders all over the fourth floor, Governor Scott and his security staff tried to enter the front of the House Chambers through a back hallway. Scott’s attempts to avoid the young activists were unsuccessful. He was confronted by loud chants of, “We who believe in freedom shall not rest until it’s won.” A visibly uncomfortable Scott quickly hurried into the House Chambers with his security personal to avoid the wrath of the protesters.
“We came here today to flex and let Governor Scott know that this is just the start”, said Dream Defenders at FSU Vice President Brian Marshall. “The Dream Era has just begun and Black and brown youth are rising to flourish in the state of Florida and fight for the issues that affect us the most.”
Dream Defenders are planning to keep the pressure on the Scott and the Republican-dominated legislature to make sure their Dream Agenda is heard.
For more information on Dream Defenders and the Dream Agenda, visit http://dreamdefenders.org/