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Thank God for the Dream Defenders

Updated: Nov 23

About the Dream Defenders: Like SNCC activists in the early 1960s, the Dream Defenders risked their academic futures, arrest, and personal safety by sitting in Florida Governor Rick Scott’s office for 31 days demanding the legislature hold hearings on the “Stand Your Ground” law, which they won. Now, the Dream Defenders, along with the NAACP, have taken their fight to the United Nations, asking whether “Stand Your Ground” laws violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by denying, what Dream Defender Legal and Policy Director Ahmad Abuznaid described as “the most basic and fundamental right — the right to life.” 





Originally written November 18, 2013.


Now, the Dream Defenders, along with the NAACP, have taken their fight to the United Nations, asking whether “Stand Your Ground” laws violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by denying, what Dream Defender Legal and Policy Director Ahmad Abuznaid described as 'the most basic and fundamental right — the right to life'.

Last week I had the privilege of spending a day with Dr. Angela Y. Davis but this post is only peripherally about Dr. Davis, my #1 shero. I'd prepared many questions for Dr. Davis for that day. My hope was to ask at least one so I ranked those questions. I did get to spend some 1:1 time with her, and also conversed with her during the small group session as she requested attendees provide resources and tips on what keeps us fortified, strong, and centered as we actively engage in social justice work - which can certainly take a mental, physical, and spiritual toll. 


During Dr. Davis's lunchtime keynote she commented how today we are incredibly disconnected from each other despite the prevalence of, and ease with which we access, social media and other forms of technology that is meant to bring us together. A paraphrase of her words, she spoke about how we lack a"collective imagination" today that was prevalent in the long 60s and asserted that has negative implications for activism today. 


My question for Dr. Davis was along those lines. As a student affairs educator and practitioner, and specifically one that is social justice focused, I am always on the lookout for students who are out there, doing the good work, so that I can support them. Over the summer I'd learned about two such groups, the Dream Defenders and the Dream 9. So my question for Dr. Davis was to begin by sharing a bit about those two groups. This was not because I believe she does not know them, but because I was sitting at a table with many social justice student educators who did not know them. Then I planned to ask Dr. Davis what her thoughts were about how we can better support these student movements, make way for them to rise by passing the proverbial torch to them (not to discount the leaders of the past but making space for these up and coming leaders to be the focus at significant events such as the March on Washington 50th Anniversary Celebration). Finally if as she expressed social media is not enough, what lessons and tools can we use from the activism of the immediate and more distant past to raise the level of awareness about these kids who are out there doing our thing such that they have more of presence and power on a national (and imagine international) scale?


Well not having the opportunity to ask her this question, I reflected on the it seeking to answer it through myself and my own knowledge as well as channeling the spirit of Dr. Davis through all she's shared and I came up with the following: use whatever platforms I have to tell their story in hopes of getting others to tell their story - and on and on and on…


This past summer I learned of the Dream Defenders through this impactful video. It was after the Zimmerman verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, then watching Fruitvale Station on the heals of that verdict, and concurrently learning about Marissa Alexander and Roy Howard Middleton - there was just so much and I, and many others, felt so sick with grief and despair. My friends and I attempted to channel that disgust into writing and other projects but we weren't moving through the anger quickly enough to get to back to action and productivity. 

I can't remember the exact day I saw this video or learned of their work but I do recall it a turning point for me and feeling overcome with emotion and pride and excitement over the work that these kids were doing. I started donating to them and have since had the privilege of spending an hour on the phone with one of their amazing political directors. Coincidentally that conversation happened the evening after which I'd spent the day with Dr. Davis. 


Please take a look at the information below. Know that these students have not gone away and that they continue to work today to bring changes to Florida's legal system as well as to impact the legal system on the national levee. 

The last thing I want to share in this post is that in Dr. Davis's keynote she spoke about how renewing the 66 year old Assata Shakur's place on the FBI's Most Wanted List was not about Ms. Shakur having been, or continuing to be, a threat. Rather that act was about sending a message to young people today about what they (law enforcement) will do if you become involved in the movement. So just imagine for one second if these kids are receiving that message without concurrently receiving the message from those who came before them, or those that are in solidarity with them, that they are supported, that they are loved, and that we are so incredibly proud of them and their work?! 


…so send the message with me that, as Dr. Davis said, FBI "I don't give a damn." Do this by learning about these students and telling their story forward.  


About the Dream Defenders: Like SNCC activists in the early 1960s, the Dream Defenders risked their academic futures, arrest, and personal safety by sitting in Florida Governor Rick Scott’s office for 31 days demanding the legislature hold hearings on the “Stand Your Ground” law, which they won. Now, the Dream Defenders, along with the NAACP, have taken their fight to the United Nations, asking whether “Stand Your Ground” laws violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by denying, what Dream Defender Legal and Policy Director Ahmad Abuznaid described as “the most basic and fundamental right — the right to life.” 







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About Me

tamia rashima jordan, M.Ed., channels her energy into projects that heal the BIPOC (Black & Indigenous & People of Color) community including serving on the Community Council of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, supporting individuals who are or have been incarcerated, and serving on the production team of the Boston Art & Music Soul Festival (BAMS Fest).

Originally from Hackensack, NJ, tamia received her BA in Government (American Politics) and African American Studies from the University of Virginia and her M.Ed. in Higher Education Student Affairs Administration from the University of Vermont. 

Also important to note, tamia cannot live without the ocean, all the folx who call her auntie, traveling to countries below the equator, kitty cats, and music.

 

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