At yesterday's remembrance of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the speeches of two 20-something activists attending the ceremony were cut for time. Shortly before they were scheduled to speak, Dream Defenders' executive director Phillip Agnew, along with United We Dream's chairperson of the board Sofia Campos, were both told that they'd have to stay on the sidelines for the day's events.
Agnew, standing offstage, was informed by organizers that his slot had been cut right as a teleprompter announced that his speech was about to begin. Dream Defenders, a Florida-based group of young activists whose national profile grew after the Trayvon Martin verdict, let its followers know that Agnew and Campos wouldn't be speaking after all:
PLEASE SHARE: Phillip Agnew of Dream Defenders, and Sofia Campos, young leader of United We Dream, have been cut... http://t.co/XDoCf9VPUR— The Dream Defenders (@Dreamdefenders) August 28, 2013
Instead, the tens of thousands in front of the Lincoln Memorial, along with those watching at home, heard a litany of speeches from political leaders and more established activists. The omission, which removed a younger generation of activists from the voices heard yesterday (both, however, spoke at a Saturday commemoration of the march), prompted a robust response, under the #OurMarch and #MarchOn hashtags on Twitter:
The Root called the cut a "snub," adding, "the elders fumbled the passing of the civil rights torch to a new generation as two emergent young leaders were bumped." But the speech Agnew prepared didn't disappear. The organization posted it to YouTube on Thursday morning:
We wont use this as an opportunity to widen any divisions. Our movement is bigger than even this moment. Youth will rise. Our time is now.— Phillip B. Agnew (@PhilUnchained) August 28, 2013
Agnew, 28, fresh off of leading a month-long sit-in at the Florida Capitol over "Stand your ground" laws and disciplinary tactics in the state's school system, and Campos, 24, who represents an immense coalition of immigration activists, are very much emerging leaders for racial justice. The "Let Freedom Ring" cuts don't come close to approaching malice, but they do reveal a disconnect between established voices and those on the sidelines who've earned a chance to speak.
Via Leah Watson, here's the full transcription of Agnew's prepared speech:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.