HomeCivil Rights & Social Justice

Dream Defenders Co-Executive Director Nailah Summers-Polite Talks Her Unique Journey To Activism

Dream Defenders x NewsOne

Source: iOne Digital Creative Services

Nailah Summers-Polite, the co-Executive Director at Dream Defenders, explained that her unique upbringing and influences — including learning about the history of the Civil Rights Movement, Black history and the way the country was built — all contributed to her current work at the human rights and abolitionist organization lifting up Black and brown people.

Interest in those topics eventually led Summers-Polite to the Mississippi Delta, where she learned about what it was like to be a field secretary in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which organized in the 1960s against segregation, racist voting laws and other restrictive measures put in place against Black people.

Summers-Polite recalled a particular instance in Mississippi when she learned more about Emmett Till by visiting a small museum dedicated to the teen who was lynched in 1955 after being accused of speaking to a white woman. It was there that Summers-Polite met a woman whose son was lynched in the present day.

“It is one thing to learn about the lynchings in America, to see the photos, to see documentaries, to see a wax figure of Emmett Till,” Summers-Polite said before adding later: “It’s an entirely different thing to look in the face of a woman whose son was found hanging from a tree in the early aughts.”

That compelled Summers-Polite to “do something” as she put it.

That “something” materialized a few months later after Trayvon Martin was killed.

Calling his death a “turning point,” Summers-Polite said she began getting involved in planning a protest that led to the arrest of George Zimmerman, the vigilante who killed the unarmed 17-year-old in 2012.

Summers-Polite’s involvement in that protest was her first direct action that led her to become a co-executive director of the Dream Defenders.

Who Are the Dream Defenders?

Dream Defenders was founded in April 2012 after the tragic killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The group was marching and fighting for justice for Trayvon and so many like him.

To learn more about Summers-Polite’s story and the work of Dream Defenders, we invite you to watch the video above.


Still On The Journey: The Women Who Are Defending Black America’s Freedom Dream

Reclaiming Journalism: Dream Defenders And NewsOne Announce Partnership For Media Justice

Ratifying The 19th Amendment: Celebrating Black Women Voting Rights Champions
Stacey Abrams/ #TheBlackBallot
10 photos
[zype id=”664e1c57bea6fe0001e0b9a8″]