The Freedom Papers

The Freedom Papers illustrates the Dream Defenders’ vision for a world that serves the everyday needs of its people – the one we all deserve.

BY JESSIKA WARD, Dream Defenders Press Secretary

Some will tell you that corporations magically make this world go round. They’ll tell you that businessmen and women keep the lights on and have the power to call on the sun and send it home at night.

They’ll tell you that developers bring life into this world, that their buildings can revive the blighted and make slums walk again. They’ll tell you that bankers and investors are great angels from on high that descend from heavenly penthouses with messages from the Bank of God.

They’ll tell you that hell on earth is just a temporary pain to be eased in the bosom of their credit, cars, clothes, and customs. They’ll tell you that they saved the day.

They’ll tell you that the real problem ain’t them, the REAL problem is your man or your woman, or that Haitian or that nigger or that illegal or that redneck, and if we could just do away with them, we could all do big business better together.

We know better.

We know about their eviction letters and rent hikes. We know about the cut hours, the unpaid overtime, the no insurance. We know about the crumbling schools, their police and prisons, and our empty wallets, stomachs, and refrigerators.

We can build a state that gives raises to all public-school teachers and bus passes to all our children. We can create a state that refuses to arrest our kids and provides healthcare to us all. If there’s a police department, a liquor store, and a check cashing place on every block, why can’t there be a public community center?

We know who really saves our days. Why don’t we praise the cook, the cleaner, and the cashier? Why don’t we praise the busboy, barback, burger broiler, and bus driver? Why don’t we praise the waiter, the welder, and the dishwasher? Why don’t we praise the maid or nanny mothering our children and theirs? Why don’t we praise the trash men, the last men to stand with King before he became a holiday?

This state doesn’t run on DeSantis, Rubio, Nelson or Rick Scott. It runs on us. We built this brick by brick with our bare hands. Not Tony Goldman, not Ron Book, or Norman Braman. WE DID. We, the forgotten, the trafficked, the disposed of. We are Florida’s true power and light, and it’s time we got our Freedom Papers.

Jessika Ward is a journalist and the press secretary for the Dream Defenders, a youth-led organization that organizes Black and Brown youth to build power in Florida communities to advance a new vision the Dream Defenders have for the state.

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