In the wake of Mike Brown’s senseless killing and the beautiful, empowered community that has taken a stand in the fight against police brutality, I am excited today to feature Angelique Fullwood, president of the Tampa chapter of Dream Defenders. While so many people denounce our generation’s “hashtag activism”, there are people like Angelique and others from Dream Defenders who are going into their communities and doing the real, tangible and impactful work.
According to its website, Dream Defenders develops the next generation of radical leaders to realize and exercise our independent collective power; building alternative systems and organizing to disrupt the structures that oppress our communities.” Fullwood is certainly one of those radical leaders. I met her via Twitter more than a year ago and have always been impressed by her wisdom and chutzpah. She vehemently and beautifully defended the two of us against a misogynistic comment someone made and I have loved her ever since. Meet Angelique.
1) What sparked your involvement in Dream Defenders? (Trayvon Martin and Zimmerman verdict)
I felt a lot of anger and a lot of different emotions after the murder of Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman verdict. I knew that it wasn’t an isolated incident but is something that is systemic. I didn’t want to stand idly by while my people are continuing to get murdered while the media and the schools try to tell us that we live in a post racial society. I needed to move my anger into action.
2) Can you tell us a bit more about Dream Defenders? What kind of organization is it and how can people get involved?
We’re a youth-led and directed organization. Its a body of unique individuals actually. Growing up, I would never think of myself as an activist, that word was never something I thought I would associate with, let alone identify as. We’re activists. But we’re no different than any other set of young adults. We’re artists, students, young people with big goals planned for our lives. We’re a diverse group, all united under one goal we set out to achieve- to liberate the communities that we belong to from oppression. Each and every one of us has a story, and freedom is something we all feel personally led to set out for. We’re an organization based in Florida (but hopefully that will change in the near future) but we’re connected with people all over on our Twitter and Facebook and Instagram accounts. If anyone wants to join any of our seven chapters throughout the state of Florida they can connect with us on our website.
3) What are your short-term and long-term goals in the world of social activism?
My short-term would be to learn as much as I can. Doing this type of work, I’m put in new environments and interacting with many different types of people with a variety of backgrounds. I come across a lot of knowledge and find myself actively seeking it. I’m learning from everything and everyone.
My long-term goals would be to use what I learn to stop mass incarceration in this country, to end the school-to-prison pipeline, and to stop police brutality and racial profiling.
Who or what has most influenced your thinking and commitment to social justice?
My family. My favorite thing about being black is hearing stories from my grandparents, aunts and uncles on how my family thrived for generations in a society that tried to silence them. I get an overwhelming sense of pride when I talk about my family because I know my family’s history.
You mentioned that in Dream Defenders, the definition of power is “the ability to act” and that is such a revolutionary idea. How would you encourage people to seize their power?
I would ask them to list out their values. Then ask them what keeps them from operating in their values. A lot of people have a fear that keeps them from their power. We have to overcome our fears together if we want to win together.
You had the opportunity to attend the 10th anniversary of the March on Washington. Describe that moment for you.
Awesome is a word thats overused a lot, but it was truely awesome. The energy from being surrounded by so many young people is incredible. The actual event actually felt too much like a commemoration of the civil rights movement from 50 years ago and not like a continuation of fighting for civil rights today. The work isn’t done. But there are a lot of people and especially young people who will ensure that it will get done.
What advice would you offer to millennials looking to get more involved in their communities?
I would tell them that their voices are valid. Know your identity and understand your purpose. There are many ways to contribute to the movement. Being involved means being relational with others in your community, striving for organization and operating under shared values.