By now, we all know singers, preachers and rappers have visited the Capitol to speak to student members of the “Dream Defenders” who have been “sitting in” at Gov. Rick Scott’s office for more than three solid weeks in opposition to Florida’s stand-your-ground” law.
They have been picking up a tremendous amount of support. However, it is not the rock-star type of support depicted by the imperialist press.They are still there but the singers, preachers and rappers are gone.
The students seem a lot like the people who occupied Wall Street. Both groups have been well-intentioned. Both groups have been determined, caring and dedicated. However, neither group has had a workable plan, a viable strategy, necessary resources or a clearly attainable goal.
If a blanket repeal of the law by a Republican-controlled Legislature is the ultimate goal, it will never happen. The best the students can hope for is a stand-your-ground “dog and pony show.” That is what committee meetings called to discuss an issue that has already been decided and determined are labeled by governmental experts and political lobbyists. The students are supported by local activists and the former community freedom-fighting members of groups such as the Malcolm X Liberation Front and The Black Federation Alliance, who are very proud that these young people stepped up and did something.
With that in mind, The Gantt Report would like to offer the following: Any change in Florida law must be voted on by the Legislature. The students therefore need to have a bill drawn up that will address their concerns, whether it is repeal or amend or something else in between. They must have sponsors in both the House and the Senate and any proposed bill must be signed into law by Scott.
It is not enough to have a good cause, a right issue or just a piece of legislation to accomplish a goal of changing any law; you must prevail. If the Legislative Black Caucus can’t get their own priorities passed, it is reasonable to believe a group of students will have trouble getting desired legislation passed in the Legislature also.
I was a lobbyist when State Reps. Tony Hill and Kendrick Meek sat in Gov. Jeb Bush’s office years ago. I was even alive when black college students across the nation sat in at lunch counters and some were beaten and/or jailed before lunch counters were desegregated. Bush told law enforcers in graphic language to throw Hill and Meek out of his office.
The Gantt Report wants the students to have a successful protest. There is no shame in reorganizing and regrouping to name goals that can be accomplished, such as setting up groups to protect young people who have to travel at night or raising money to defeat legislators who refuse to change unjust laws.
Not only will sit-ins alone not accomplish stated goals. Sitting-in may just cause violence if students are forcibly removed from the Capitol and jailed and, believe me, one day they will have to leave, voluntarily or by force.
We are proud of the student “Dream Defenders” for taking direct action when other young people merely sought to make Facebook posts. But success is always the best revenge. Symbolism is sensational and generates press and puppets who want media attention. But it doesn’t work.
Remember when the people in Mississippi and other Southern states started the plans to march on Washington in the late ’60s and then the preachers and the politicians “took over” the march? That is when Martin Luther King Jr. made his “I Have A Dream” speech.
If the students want to accomplish something in the Legislature, they should assemble some of the state’s most experienced lobbyists and political activists and come up with a viable political strategy. If they don’t figure out something that will work, history will look on them not as Dream Defenders but as Dream Pretenders.
Lucius Gantt, a political consultant based in Tallahassee, is author of the book Beast Too: Dead Man Writing which is available at Amazon.com. You can like The Gantt Report page on Facebook and contact Gantt at allworldconsultants.net