Phil Agnew and the Dream Defenders are No Joke

Phil AgnewWe recently sat down with Phil Agnew of the Dream Defenders which is an incredible organization based in Florida. They were the first on the scene kicking up dust and doing all that they could do to bring attention to the grave injustice that befell 17-year-old  Trayon Martin who racial profiled and then shot by self-proclaimed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman.

During our interview, Phil walked us through all the direct action the Dream Defenders executed leading up to the Trayvon Martin saga getting national attention. These activities included blocking the doors to the Standford police station and walking 40 miles over a 3 day period from Stanford Florida to Tallahassee. During the trial and the months leading up to it, very little shine was given to the DD. Instead we saw the faces of traditional Civil Rights leaders and media pundits. Throughout that time, the Dream Defenders kept their nose to the grind, doing the heavy lifting of organizing throughout the state. Their focus was young people in many of the colleges and disenfranchised folks from the community.

Dream Defenders signs After the tumultuous trial, which resulted in George Zimmerman being acquitted, while many pundits and Trayvon Martin experts left Sanford to return home, the Dream Defenders headed to the state capital and staged a 30 day sit in at the governor’s office. As Phil explained, the purpose was not to protest the verdict which they obviously didn’t agree with, but to bring attention to the unfair laws  that led to Martin being shot in the first place.

The issues at hand were racial profiling and Stand Your Ground. The group wanted a meeting with the governor and demanded to have a hearing with the legislature to repeal the law. It was an arduous fight and while they didn’t get all they wanted, the Dream defenders made Stand Your Ground a front and center issue. They also made it known they would be a serious political force to be reckoned with.

Phil explained how the Dream Defenders linked up with the Dreamers who are undocumented youth who had been receiving national attention for the direct action tactics in pushing hard for Immigrant Rights. The groups saw common ground and the importance of forming vibrant Black-Brown coalitions that are savvy enough insidious attempts to divide and conquer.

During our interview Phil talked at length about the Dream Defender’s strategy to take their fight around Stand Your Ground laws to the United Nations. He talks about members going to Geneva and the affirming responses they got..

Dream DefendersThis summer Dream defenders will be participating in the upcoming celebrations of the Freedom Summer of 64 with a promise of the group growing stronger and using their leverage to overcome restrictive voting laws saddling their state.

Its interesting to note that when looking at the political landscape and seeing the array of problems that confront society, many in their frustration often ask, “Where are all the young people?” Many like to hark back at a time when seemingly everyone was politically involved and committed to changing the world. Some like to assert today’s youth are lacking.. The Dream Defenders and folks like Phil Agnew through their actions dispel such notions.

Dream Defenders & Hip Hop Generation Activists Weigh in on State of the Union Address

Phil Agnew Dream Defenders On January 28th, Phil Agnew of the Dream Defenders delivered a  State of the Youth Address, outlining the social justice priorities of millions of young voters. It took place during the annual #Barack Talk

“For the past 4 years, #BarackTalk has been an opportunity for young people to meet online and hold real conversations about our biggest issues, from climate change to gun control,” says Biko Baker, Executive Director of the League of Young Voters.

“This year, we wanted to make it clear that the Rising American Electorate is diverse, powerful, and passionate about impacting the world we live in today.”

Phillip Agnew, Executive Director of Dream Defenders, says, “The emerging face of our country has begun to fight for the world we will inherit. Our generation knows that true change is more than words and slogans. We are building towards it at every level and, in 2014, we will show our power at the polls.”

Below is a video of Phil’s address

Rosa Clemente

Rosa Clemente

Earlier that day we at Hard Knock Radio sat down with a number of stellar Hip Hop Generation folks from around the country and asked them to address the issues that they are tackling and put forth key items President Obama would need to address in order to resonate with their constituents…Everything from voter suppression to police brutality to Stand Your Ground abuses and the fast tracking of the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership ) agreements were addressed.

The conversation that unfolded was inspiring, enlightening and a clear indication that many folks are hard at work making things happen in a big way.. These accomplishments range from folks bringing out record numbers to the polls both during the presidential elections and on off years, fighting ALEC, launching success Stop the Violence campaigns, establishing historic redistricting commissions, leading the fight for environmental justice and being deeply involved in media justice campaigns. to name a few..As one of our guest Rosa Clemente noted in our round table, this is about being a movement, not a moment..

Our guest included the following folks:

Rosa Clemente former 2008 Vice Presidential candidate for the Green Party
Shamako Noble-president Hip Hop Congress
Jazz Hudson-Educator, Poet Black Youth project
Elandria Williams-Highlander Center, Tennessee
Carmen LIanes -Voting rights advocate and a member PODER out of Austin, Texas
Biko Baker-League of Young Voters who put on the annual #BarackTalk

As we leave out, here’s some new music from Jasiri X.. He along with long time writer and activist Dream Hampton were part of a delegation that went to Palestine.. They just got back and he flipped this video