We did work this year. It wasn't flashy, easy, much of it wasn't covered but we made an impact with our people this year.
We turned five this year, we bailed our people out, we started a class in a jail, we provided housing, we hosted 500 dinners across the country, we stared down Hurricane Irma, we held our fifth annual convening, we brought Black Panther Party legend Elaine Brown to Miami, we took our third delegation to Palestine, we trained our members, we started a garden, a Coordinating Committee and a communications team, we gave out more than 800 books, and we listened to our people this year. We did a lot and that's still not everything. But we did it all with foundations pulling our funding because of our political stances. And we still aren't anywhere near done. As we look to the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, we are more determined than ever to keep making an impact, to keep doing the work, and to continue to build the movement organization that Florida's future needs. And we promise we're going to take it up a few notches next year.
So we say thank you for your support. It's what got us through 2017. Read below to see all that we did with your help and help us make even bigger waves next year by donating to the Dream Defenders today. We've got so much important work lined up. Be a part of it.
Much love and appreciation from us all.
This year we joined organizations across the country for the National Bail Out Movement to end money bail. We bailed out four mothers from Pinellas County Jail for Mother's Day and four men from TGK Correctional Center in Miami for Independence Day. All the folks we bailed out were sitting in jail because they could not afford to pay their bail. We threw them homecoming parties, reunited them with their families and continue to hold relationships with them. For some of the folks we bailed out, we provided housing at our home office as well as help with job placement, groceries and rides. It was more than just a bailout, it's making sure that these eight people have community beside them to get back to their lives.
Richard Spencer at UF
In the Fall, our members in Gainesville were part of the leadership that organized the demonstration that ended with Richard Spencer's humiliation at the University of Florida. They organized campus protests at the President's Office, circulated a student petition to get Spencer barred from coming to campus and when the institution failed to keep him from coming, they were there to shout him down during his talk. Look out for the crew and their work in 2018!
Day of Dinners
In June we set out to unite neighbors in their hoods, at the dinner table. We hear all the time from our elders that neighborhoods aren't the same. That people who live next door to each other don't speak or know anything about one another. We set out to amend that in June. On June 25th, Day of Dinners, thousands across the country came together with their neighbors to build the necessary bonds and tight communities we need to forge ahead into a better, thriving future -- just by having a potluck. We had dinners in all fifty states in places like Miami, New York, L.A., Boston, Denver, D.C., Birmingham, Anchorage, Flint, and Gulfport. In all, we had more than 500 dinners and 10,000 individuals sign up to host or attend on the DayofDinners website we built for the occasion. We had allied organizations sign up to be partners and host dinners in their locales. Some of these partners included Women's March, Ben & Jerry's, The People's Supper, The Movement for Black Lives, Million Hoodies, United We Dream, Color of Change and more! Be on the lookout for 2018 dates!
Betsy Devos @ Bethune Cookman's Commencement
A Reflection from DD Co-Director, Rachel Gilmer
"In May, word leaked that Betsy Devos had been invited to serve as the commencement speaker for Bethune Cookman University. We knew we wanted to be involved. We joined students, alumni and community based organizations to organize against Devos speaking on campus. As our organizing began to gain momentum, the school administration began to double down in defense of Devos and Trump. BCU’s President threatened students by warning that he would withhold their degrees and bribed others with promises to pay off their fees if they stood in support of Devos as commencement speaker. Although there was a small group of outspoken students, most folks wanted to spend their last week of college celebrating and making their families proud, not lose the opportunity to graduate.
When we arrived at graduation, we were nervous. We knew that a small group of students were ready to turn their backs on Devos, but for the most part, we thought it would be a very small action. This was truly an historical moment - a presidential cabinet that is working only for the interests of the corporate elite, at the expense of working class people and people of color everywhere was about to speak at a Black graduation and potentially, there would only be a small uproar. We worried about alienating all the families that came to the stadium to see their babies graduate. Our worries were in vain.
Although she stood on stage donning robes with the school president, it took almost an hour before Betsy Devos’ name was mentioned. As soon as she was, the crowd joined us in booing her. Once she took the stage to speak, the graduating students were on their feet, turned their backs and those of us who were in on the action, amplified their stand with raucous boos and jeers. We couldn’t hear a word of what she was saying. We were sitting with some of the current BCU students who wanted to act, and they taught us an HBCU pride chant that the families around us loved. The jeering spread through the stadium. We were eventually asked to leave to stadium and after we stood to leave, families came to their feet to applaud us. The feeling of the support of the families, who were were afraid to disappoint, was so gratifying.
But we were only a part of lighting a match. The crowd continued to boo and heckle Betsy Devos. Umi stayed behind to yell at her some more and he let us know the loudest boos came when Devos mentioned her plans to pay her respects to Mary McLeod Bethune by visiting her home. For me, this action was a reminder of what great actions look and feel like. Throughout our DNA process and planning our statewide and local work, I’ve been sitting in meetings for so long. It was invigorating to be a part of planning and executing a meaningful action and I can’t wait for you to see our work get off the ground in 2018!"