Dream Defenders: Music Festival Reminds Young Floridians to Get Out, Vote

By Alexis McKenney

What they’re most afraid of is young, Black, Brown and working-class people coming together because we know we ALL deserve better. – Rachel Gilmer, Co-director Dream Defenders

Various Get Out the Vote efforts are happening around the country to ensure voters find themselves at the polls on November 6 – or before for early voting. In previous elections, statistics have shown that young voters weren’t motivated to show up at the polls. As a result, there has been an increase in organizing to ensure young voters exercise their right to vote.

Advancement Project national office partner Dream Defenders attracted hundreds of young Miami area voters with its Get Out the Vote music festival, Vote PERIOD, at Gwen Cherry Park. In addition to free food, live music, and art, Vote PERIOD attendees were treated to a free ride to early voting locations. Dream Defenders, formed in 2014 in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin, mobilize Black and Brown young people throughout Florida to advocate and reform education and criminal justice.

Vote PERIOD was the culmination of the DREAMers’ organizing efforts surrounding the upcoming mid-term elections which also include community meetings, a Florida Voter Guide (and accompanying Twitter thread), as well as local canvassing. During the event, Rachel Gilmer, co-director of Dream Defenders, talked about the organization’s identity – an identity that refuses to diminish itself in the face of racist backlash, that sees young organizing as a strength and not a weakness, and that is firmly rooted at the intersection of the Black radical tradition and today’s struggle for justice. Vote PERIOD was a reclamation of that identity. It was a moment filled with purpose and joy, the latter of which those of us in movement work tend to forget.