Black History Month: Phillip Agnew

Phillip Agnew

(Currently Living)

21st - Phillip Agnew


[su_note note_color=”#40cd11″ radius=”5″]Noteworthy Accomplishments & Historical Facts [su_list icon_color=”#191f17″]
  • One of the Founders of the Dream Defenders
  • Executive Director  of the Dream Defenders
  • His organization (Dream Defenders) is credited with putting the Trayvon Martin case on the National Radar

The Creation of the Dream Defenders

Phillip Agnew is a 28 year old activist from Chicago, Illinois. Though he is young in age, he doesn’t let that stop him from trying to bring about change. Phillip first got his feet wet with community activism when he was a student at Florida A&M University. He was the student body vice president when 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson was beaten to death at a Florida boot camp in 2006. At the time, Phillip was more interested in partying than protesting, but when he realized that Martin Lee Anderson was the same age as his own little brother, he joined student-led efforts to demonstrate at the capitol.

There he met up with and got to know two like minded students, Gabriel Pendas and Ahmad Abuznaid (the other two founding members of the Dream Defenders). Six years after the Martin Lee Anderson case, the shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, in Florida shook the foundations of Phillip Agnew’s comfortable life selling erectile dysfunction drugs and anti-depressants.

Outraged at police who cited Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law as a reason not to arrest neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, Phillip felt compelled to make a stand of his own. So, in response to Trayvon Martin being killed, he along with Gabriel and Ahmad formed the Dream Defenders, which brought vigor and national attention to the case right from the start.

The Dream Defenders Purpose

The Dream Defenders is a human rights organization, directed by Black and Brown youth who confront inequality and the criminalizing of our generation with nonviolent direct action and building of collective power in our communities (Dream Defenders, website).

In light of the Trayvon Martin case (the reason the group was formed), the Dream Defenders created the Trayon Martin Civil Rights Act (as proposed in the video below).



The group also marched from Daytona Beach, FL to Sanford, FL (the town where Trayvon was shot while walking to his father’s home). Phillip and the other founders led the longest sit-in in memory at the Florida Capitol this summer, at 33 hours.

The Black and Brown youth led Dream Defenders now has chapters on nine college campuses in FL and highlights racial and social economic – justice issues like prison privatization, racial profiling, and “zero tolerance” policies in schools – which many believe lead students of color straight into the prison system.

The Dream Defenders have been referred to a “modern-day version of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.” Phillip Agnew, may be the next Stokely Carmichael, or better yet, the first Phillip Agnew!


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The Root

Dream Defenders