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‘Dream Defenders’ Continue sit-in in Florida’s Governor’s Office

What happens to a dream deferred?

By JAMES HARPER, Special to the NNPA from the Florida Courier | 8/6/2013, 5:02 p.m.
The group of college aged-students who have kept Florida Gov. Rick Scott out of his Tallahassee office off and on ...
Dream Defenders and their supporters protest outside Florida Gov. Rick Scott's office in the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. The sit-in is their response to the not guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Trayvon Martin. They are continuing to demand Scott call a special session. AP Photo/Phil Sears

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore – And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over – like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.

Or does it explode? -- Langston Hughes

The group of college aged-students who have kept Florida Gov. Rick Scott out of his Tallahassee office off and on for more than two weeks call themselves the “Dream Defenders.” Their goal is to make sure the dreams of their generation are not “deferred,” a reference to Langston Hughes’ famous poem titled “Harlem (Dream Deferred).”

“We are here to no longer defer the dream. These issues are real to our generation. This is our movement, though we welcome icons of the past,” said Curtis Hierro, the group’s field secretary. “We are a movement of a new generation. We can’t rely on other people to do it for us. We are an organized youth resistance. The onus is on us to organize and bring people here.”

Their movement has brought civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, entertainer Harry Belafonte, and others to Tallahassee to support them.

Hierro is a recent graduate of the University of Central Florida in Orlando. The Dream Defenders first organized themselves in April 2012. Students from Bethune-Cookman University, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee Community College, and other schools set out on a three-day, 41-mile journey from Daytona Beach to Sanford to protest the improper handling of the Trayvon Martin case by Sanford authorities.

About 40 students from Gainesville, Tallahassee, Miami and Daytona Beach kicked off the march, which was organized to pay homage to Dr. Martin Luther King’s march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

The group began the march at a local Daytona Beach park and rested at churches along their way to Sanford. The march ended three days later at Allen Chapel AME Church in Sanford, which has been ground zero in the city where Martin was killed by George Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012.

Active again

The protesters were spurred to action again after Zimmerman was acquitted on July 13 after his jury trial.

On July 16, about 40 students sat in at the governor’s office in Tallahassee, waiting for Scott to return from a trip to New York and take up their demand for a special legislative session addressing laws they say unfairly affect non-White youth.

They want Scott to call a special session to create a Trayvon Martin Civil Rights Act and address “Stand Your Ground vigilantism, racial profiling and a war on youth that paints us as criminals and funnels us out of schools and into jails.”

At the time, Scott’s office put out a statement suggesting that Scott would not meet their demands.

“As the governor has said, as a father and a grandfather, his heart goes out to Trayvon Martin’s family and all those affected by his death,” said Communications Director Melissa Sellers in an email. “We are grateful that people across our great nation have the right to assemble and share their views. …