From September 8th through September 10th, the Neighborhood News Correspondent team covered the Free Our Dreams Summit at UC Davis. In this video report, four participants and organizers of the event answered what they personally stand for and how they plan to have a voice in the current political climate.
The Free Our Dreams event at UC Davis brought youth from all around California to come together and discuss issues in their communities. One of the most recent issues Californians and many other people across the country face is the fazing-out of the DACA program. In this video, we explain what DACA is, and how it will affect the people.
The power of youth who use their voice to advocate on their own behalf has been growing stronger in California in the past few years. The Free Our Dream Conference, held at UC Davis over the past weekend, seeked to empower young people from all across the state to make changes in their communities.
Between May 6th and 8th, Sacramento was once again was the host of the #freeourdreams Youth Conference. Formerly known as Sisters and Brothers at the Capitol, the event’s name was changed to Free Our Dreams and has become an annual event which is organized by PolicyLink and Movement Strategy Center. Over 250 youth stormed upon the California State Capitol to hold over 100 legislative visits with lawmakers. Topics of interest for discussion included issues about health, safety, and the future success of young people.
The overall purpose of Free Our Dreams is to make sure that the power of the youth voice is one that is strong and to use that power to help change and advance policies and narratives that affect the neighborhoods of the youth by organizing a statewide effort at the State Capitol.
Youth were transported by bus from cities all over California from places like Bakersfield, San Diego, Stockton, Los Angeles and more. Participants were asked to spread the word and to hashtag #freeourdreams on social media accounts. They went to workshops to learn more about the planned march, social injustices and how they can help to overcome them. They took part in legislative training and preparation for their visits At the end of the first full day of events was a “Block Party” where the participants made their own signs for the march and rally, took advantage of a photo booth and got involved in other art and craft activities.
May 8th was the day that the participants were preparing for. The youth boarded their buses and traveled to the capitol with their signs and banners, displaying #freeourdreams. Participants lined up and began to march around the capitol before heading to the Sacramento California Endowment office where they would finish by hearing speeches from senators and youth participants. From there, the legislative visits began. Youth from Bakersfield-based South Kern Sol spoke on SB 68, a senate bill that extends in-state tuition for undocumented students at CSUs and community colleges. They met Ellen Cesaretti, a representative for Assemblymember Dante Acosta. They also spoke about SB 607 which aims to end suspensions for willful defiance.
“At first I felt really thrilled and then I became nervous,” said Jocelyn Cuevas, a participant with South Kern Sol. “I knew I had to be outside my shell.”
After a long weekend of preparation and work, the legislative visits concluded and the participants returned home in their buses. For many participants, the Free Our Dreams event was a fun and unique experience.
“I was sad when it was done,” said Nichole Castillo, a youth participant with Mid-City CAN. “It was a really great and fun opportunity. I got to meet and bond with other sites. I wasn’t ready to go back home. Not yet.”
The 3-day #FreeOurDreams Youth Organizing Summit and Advocacy Day event for California youth was held from August 5th through the 8th. Participating youth stayed at the dorm rooms at the UC Davis campus for the entire event. Youth from all over California departed in their buses Friday morning, bonding and getting to know each other along the way to Davis.
The event started with community building activities such as getting into groups and introducing themselves and talking about their opinions and who they are. Quickly after that, they continued on to the dorms ending the day.
Youth woke Saturday morning and had breakfast provided by the campus. Youth went on during the day doing various activities With a focus on encouraging them on advocating for what they think is right such as having a Free Our Dreams activism college and career panel. From there they Continued on to participate in workshops of various subject matter like crimmigration, a youth strategy session, defeating gang injunctions, and more.
“With this event, our youth are stepping up. They are finding their voices,” says Jose Pinto, a youth advocate from South Kern when asked what he felt was most important about this event.
On Monday morning the youth packed their bags, boarded their buses, and left to the Capitol with a #FreeOurDreams march around Downtown Sacramento. The youth got into their groups and go talk with elected officials within the Capitol about issues surrounding their own community. The event ended with everyone boarding their buses and heading home.
The government gets its power from the people. When the people feel like there should be a change in the system, whether it’s removing a law or passing a bill, they make their voice heard. At the #freeourdreams conference in the University of California, Davis, youth are learning on how to advocate for their communities and make their voices be heard.