To bring social change by training and organizing youth and students in nonviolent civil disobedience, civic engagement, and direct action while creating a sustainable network of youth and student leaders to take action and create real change in their communities.
About the Organization:
Established in 2012 following the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin, Dream Defenders comprises seven college chapters across Florida: Florida A&M University, Florida State University, University of Florida, University of Central Florida, University of South Florida, Florida International University, and Miami Dade College. The organization pledges to defend "the people's power to determine the destinies of our own communities"; "the right of all to a quality education and to live lives free of police brutality, racial profiling, and mass incarceration"; and "the right of all to happiness with whomever they choose."
Following the July 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman for the fatal shooting of Martin, Dream Defenders launched its #TakeoverFL campaign, holding a sit-in at Florida governor Rick Scott's offices in the state capitol for thirty-one days to demand a special legislative session on "Trayvon's Law" — legislation aimed at dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, ending racial profiling, and repealing the state's "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law. As part of the campaign, the organization has initiated a voter registration drive to register 61,550 voters — the margin of Scott's victory in the 2010 election — across the state.
Dream Defenders campaigns also include "Divest & Conquer," in which chapters call on college administrations to abide by ethical investment agreements to ensure that no public funds go to prisons or immigrant detention facilities; "Youth Unchained," a program designed to provide mentorship, organizer training, and leadership development for the youth community base; and "The World Is Ours," an effort to mobilize and organize civic engagement at the local, state, and federal levels — regardless of election cycles — around priorities outlined at an annual congress.
Visitors to the site can read about the "crisis" many children and youth of color face in a vicious cycle of poverty, underfunded education systems, discrimination, and mass incarceration; read the text of "Trayvon's Law"; and keep abreast of developments on the blog. Supporters can sign a petition in support of "Trayvon's Law," add their organizations to the list of supporters, or make a donation.
Dream Defenders is supported by individuals and nonprofit organizations.