Phillip Agnew, Defending The Dream For The Next Generation

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For Black History Month, NewsOne honors GAME CHANGERS: Everyday heroes whose actions make life better for the people around them. SEE ALL OUR GAME CHANGERS HERE.

PhilAgnew_twominutesPhillip Agnew

Place of Residence: Florida

Why He’s a Game Changer: Agnew is one of the founders of Dream Defenders, along with Gabriel Pendas and Ahmad Abuznaid. The group was launched in the wake of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin to build young leaders while fighting for social justice.

Wanting to take action and demand justice in the wake of Martin’s shooting, the group protested in front of the Sandford, Fla., police station demanding the arrest of Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman. Later, they occupied the Florida State Capitol demanding the passage of “Trayvon’s Law,” drafted during the takeover, which would abolish Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” laws.

“Stand Your Ground is just one branch [of] a really poisonous tree that shows how Florida cares about its young people,” Agnew told MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry. “And at the root of that tree is prejudice, profiling and prisons for profit.”

The group has been likened to a modern-day version of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee which helped young people push the cause for civil rights forward.

“They remind me of me when I was their age,” founding SNCC member Julian Bond told MSNBC. “They are fulfilling a role that has been missing. They are doing things that used to be done but aren’t done now.”

But Agnew is not getting ahead of himself. Gaining media attention is not enough. He wants to see Dream Defenders push real change in this country.

“We haven’t arrived at anything yet,” Agnew told MSNBC. “This is no coming out party. We’ve only scratched the surface collectively. We’re the new kids on the block. We’re all just trying to figure out how we got here. I think we just have the right message at the right time.”

One of Agnew’s refrains is that young people’s time is now. He took that sentiment to heart when he was cut from speaking at the 50th anniversary event of the March on Washington due to time constraints. Agnew was one of the youngest leaders set to speak at the event. Instead of getting mad and angry and ranting, Agnew put his own two-minute speech out over YouTube.

Using technology as an equalizer and a barrier breaker is a sign of the way this new generation does things– a sign we should all be glad to witness.

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