On Jan. 8, the Florida-based activist organization Dream Defenders endorsed Bernie Sanders as its choice candidate in the 2020 race for the presidency. In its official endorsement statement, the organization said, “No candidate has been more consistent over their lifetime in choosing unpopular political stances rooted in the needs of Black people, immigrants, LGBT communities and the working class.”
Earlier this week, the Tallahassee chapter of Dream Defenders hosted “Bowling for Bernie” at Florida A&M University’s Galimore lanes. This event offered free bowling to students and allowed Dream Defenders organizers a platform to share their support of Sen. Sanders of Vermont.
Sanders’ platform reads as if it was pulled straight from the Dream Defenders’ Freedom Papers manifesto. The organization’s demands for freedom from poverty, prison, police brutality, and war align perfectly with Sanders’ promises of free college, Medicare for all, 100 percent elimination of all student and healthcare debt, ending mass incarceration, instituting a “prisoners bill of rights” and ending the war in Iran.
Recent FAMU graduate Marie Rattigan was involved in the process of her organization’s endorsement of Sanders and she couldn’t be happier with the result.
Rattigan first joined Dream Defenders in 2014. That year, she organized a walkout at Coral Glades High School for the 2nd anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death. Now she has the opportunity to help elect one of the most progressive presidential candidates America has ever seen. However, Rattigan believes that his platform isn’t radical at all. In fact, it’s just the change America needs, she said.
“Ordinary people can change the world,” Rattigan said. “There’s more of us than there is the 1 percenters. A free education is not radical. We should be applauding other places that have free education. If they can do it, we can do it as well. If we stop funneling money into creating more beds in prison, then we can have that money to send people to school for free.”
Among the students in attendance at the Dream Defenders’ bowling event was Keshawn Louis, a freshman majoring in accounting. Louis was a Sanders supporter in the 2016 election and is ready to do the same again this year. When asked how he feels about claims that Sanders is “too radical,” Louis explained that, yes, some of Sanders’ ideas seem difficult to achieve but it’s all about coming up with a solid plan and implementing that plan.
Sophomore health care management major Christopher Johnson holds similar beliefs, stating definitively, “Change is always needed. So if he’s going to bring the change, then people should try to understand the change and see where he’s coming from.”