Saturday and Sunday, young high school and college students convened at LIRS to organize their advocacy for the Maryland DREAM Act. The DREAM Act in Maryland is up for voter referendum in 2012, but the young group is beginning now to fight for its passing into law.
Over 20 students gathered, and many shared personal stories of their connection to the legislation. Many of them are relying on the legislation to make it possible for them to go to college, and still more are fighting for people they know who would not be able to earn a higher degree without the passage of the DREAM Act. Six of the young organizers had been working on the legislation for months, and had helped pass the original bill before it was put up for referendum by petition. The core six were there to train the rest, to build their ranks and go out to the state and organize support. LIRS’s own Eric Sigmon led a training session on how to meet and talk with legislators and politicians.
The passion, power and intelligence of the young students and their stories was not only impressive, it was inspiring. One of the leaders is a college graduate who quit his job to pursue the passing of the DREAM Act. Another is fighting for her sister to be able to achieve in-state tuition so that she can afford college in Maryland. Still another is fighting the temptations of drugs and dropping out of high school, but continues to find the courage to fight for his education beyond high school.
Story after story told a personal and powerful account of why these students are pursuing the passing of the DREAM Act. The ability of the students to infuse serious discussions about issues of policy, organizing and legislative analysis with an optimistic energy was inspiring to watch.