National Youth Activists Launch Freedom Summer Campaign

Progress isn’t possible without action.

And so it’s frustrating to think that for 50 years and beyond African-Americans have been fighting a civil war to attain the resources and necessities needed to comfortably survive in a society that still frowns upon the color of our skin.

But, there is still hope and innovative efforts moving forth in advocating change.

Youths are now taking a stand and marching in the footsteps of those who have paved the way to make a stance.

Wearing black tape over their mouths in protest, members of Freedom Side stood in solidarity while hosting a march in Nashville, Tennessee this  past weekend.  The event marked one year since the George Zimmerman verdict rendered many of us numb. That day, five Freedom Side organizers had been arrested and later released after a judge saw no probable cause for the arrest.

Made up of a collective of youth activists, Freedom Side is launching a multiple state effort inspired by the Freedom Summer campaign, the latter of which marked its significance during the heights of the Civil Rights Movement.

Just like civil rights workers who came before them, this newest group’s efforts are focused on fighting for racial and social justice with the spotlight trained on the mass criminalization of young people. The group– filled with youths from Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Mississippi, New York– and energized by leaders from Dream Defenders, United We Dream and Black Youth Project is traveling the country to address issues such as voter rights, immigrant justice and equality in education.

“For anybody that’s been asking about what young people are doing, this is just a sample size of what we are up to,” Philip Agnew, executive director of Dream Defenders told in an interview. “This summer we invite other youth to join us in voter registration and education, so that we can begin building a bloc of voters that moves not along party lines – but on our issues, values, and principles.”

Freedom Side will be working with Nashville’s ‘Put The People First Coalition’ to combat attacks on Black and Brown youth unjustly targeted and stripped of their freedom rights.

Embrace the past in order to work toward a better future. Keep up with the youth activists by following them on twitter: @FreedomSide and by using the  hashtag #OurLivesMatter.

Check out JET’s archive collection of historical Freedom Summer images.