Last month, on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech, today's DREAMers were cast out of the celebration. Despite the clear crossovers in our struggles, the executive director of the Dream Defenders, Philip Agnew, and chairperson of United We Dream, Sofia Campos, were told they could not speak at the "Let Freedom Ring" closing ceremony.
United We Dream (UWD) is a group that represents immigration activists who have led the campaign to enact the DREAM Act: legislation that would provide a path of citizenship to undocumented students who arrived to the United States before the age of 16. UWD fights for folks who have been deported. They also place their bodies on the line for comprehensive immigration reform for students and families.
The Dream Defenders spent the last month camped out in Florida's capital building protesting the George Zimmerman verdict. They've worked to demand changes to the school-to-prison pipeline that disproportionately affects students of color.
If these organizations do not represent the dream MLK was talking about, I am not sure who does.
The Dream Defenders published a video of the speech Agnew would have delivered if he was allowed to speak at the march.
"This is about more than the speech,” said Agnew in a statement via the Advancement Project. “It’s about the voices of hundreds of thousands of people across the country that have been silenced for too long. Our generation’s dreams have been deferred for too long. While the words spoken amidst the pillars of the Lincoln Memorial yesterday may have reverberated throughout the nation, the actions, energy, and love of the rising generation will resound in history books for centuries to come, like those of giants before us.”
Campos and Agnew were both originally invited to speak at anniversary, but were cut from the lineup. Though the ceremony was a "call to action," it seems strange that it didn't include two organizations that have been organizing around racial and migrant justice for years (Agnew told the Daily Caller that he was cut due to time limitations; "I believe our time is now," he said).
Campos also recorded her speech:
The ceremony did manage to include President Obama, Jamie Foxx, Oprah Winfrey, LGBT organizers, and organizers from the labor movement.
Why the ceremony's organizers failed to see the intersection between MLK's speech and the struggle faced by the DREAMers reflects why immigration justice is still an issue in need of attention — by the outside world but also by other marginalized communities.